Category Archives: Grocery store

Lotte

Korean Market columbus ohio

Cuisine: Korean
4944 N High St, Columbus, 43214
614.885.3232
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Tuesday -Saturday 11-8pm (last order 7.30pm)

I have a sneaking suspicion that Korean restaurants are trying to hide from us.
The whole idea behind strip malls is that every storefront faces the parking lot, but Silla somehow manages to be tucked away behind a bar, accessible only by going down a forbidding path between the walls of two buildings. Arirang, another strip mall location, is a grocery with a restaurant in the back. You could shop the entire retail space without even knowing that the (essentially walled off) dining area existed. A solid restaurant with a primarily Korean menu on north campus hides in plain sight behind the name ‘Japanese Oriental Restaurant’. And, finally, does anyone remember the Korean restaurant on Lane & High in the ’90′s? It was stuck so far back in a building that the only way to get there was by going down a dank, dimly neon lit, vaguely Blade Runner-esque corridor.
lotte korean food columbus
Now there’s Lotte, an established Korean grocery with a new secret. Towards the back of their sizable retail area there’s an entry to a storage room. Enter, and you’ll see sacks of rice piled high among various other palleted goods. And a door. Enter that, and you’ll find their shiny new restaurant. And, if you’ve actually made it this far, chances are you’ve made your first mistake; you order at the grocery checkout, and take the receipt – which is your order ticket – to the employee working the counter in the restaurant.
lotte oriental food restaurant
The dining area is bright, clean, cramped, and no-frills. Like Arirang, water is self-serve from a dispenser and utensils are stored on boxes at the tables. Also like Arirang, the menu is small and largely focuses on better known Korean favorites, such as bulgogi, bibimbop, and kimbop. Service was brisk, and our orders arrived quickly.
korean grocery store columbus
All were solid, if not exceptional… at least until you factor in the pricing. Our group of 7 ordered the entire menu, ate almost to the point of bursting, took home leftovers, and paid just over $50 for the whole spread.
this is what happens when you order the whole menu
I’m tempted to think of it Korean fast food – it’s not the best, but it’s fast, cheap, and will take the edgy off of any Korean cravings.
lotte oriental new restaurant
Lotte probably has the widest selection of the three dedicated Korean markets in Columbus, including a large selection of prepared foods and banchan dishes. The staff are also helpful.
korean ingredients columbus
One last note – #5 on the menu is not translated into English, and it’s what we believe to be a regional Korean spin on kalbi tang stew (Woogeoji galbitang – beef rib and cabbage soup with soybean paste). This is the only place we’ve seen it in Columbus, and it’s a deeply vegetal beef broth soup with generous chunks of beef. Definitely worth a try if you’re looking for something out of the ordinary.

korean beef rib and cabbage soup

Khyber

khyber restaurant columbus

Cuisine: Pakistani

425 Industrial Mile Road,
Columbus, Ohio 43228
614.275.2022
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This is the kind of story we like to write.

A cook from a restaurant we adore – Adil from Tandoori Grill – strikes out on his own to open a new restaurant, Khyber, in a new part of town. The owner of Tandoori Grill, Said, wishes him well; we’ve spoken to both and there are clearly no hard feelings. The food at Tandoori Grill remains great, the food at Khyber makes for an impressive debut, and just like that the city has doubled in quality Pakistani dining options. As far as we’re concerned, everybody wins.

Khyber occupies the west side space that previously held Azteca de Oro. As with Azteca, environs are humble but comfortable. As with Tandoori Grill, a small Pakistani grocery with a meat counter adjoins.

Pakistani food columbus

Khyber’s speciality is tandoori dishes – grilled meats and nan bread cooked in the tandoor oven. The nan bread is cooked to order and, like at Apna Bazaar/Tandoori Grill, it is thinner, less doughy, and in our estimation far preferable to most other options in town.

pakistani restaurant columbus

Of the tandoori meat dishes we’ve tried, we particularly like the seekh (ground meat) kebabs – available in lamb, beef or chicken. They are nice and juicy, feature a good amount of spicing and heat, and are great paired with nan and a little of Khyber’s yogurt based chutney.

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Also tasty  are the chapli kebabs – burger-like ground beef patties with onions, tomatoes, chiles and spices.

pakistani food columbus

The menu offers some interesting meat stews and satisfying vegetarian options. Stews include nehari - a rich beef curry stew with extremely tender slow cooked beef; goat quorma - a mild curry with lots of gravy and a meat based curry with wheat called haleem, barley, and lentils. Not listed on the menu but also available (and one of our favorites) is aloo keema, a ground meat and potato curry.

potato and ground meat curry

A little drier (in terms of the saucing) but still entirely enjoyable are the karahi dishes – curried meat, either goat or chicken, with tomato, green chili and onion.

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For vegetarians, or as a great side dish for the tandoor grilled meats, there are lahori chana (whole chickpeas in sauce), mash dal (white lentil dal) or bhendi (curried okra). We particularly liked the okra and the mash dal. Adil said that there would be at least one dal available daily.

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The menu is expanding and there are often specials. In addition to the listed items we’ve also tried samosas, goat biryani, cow’s foot curry and house made desserts including kheer (fragrant rice pudding) and semiya halwa (sweet, spiced vermicelli noodles).

One interesting, and somewhat incongruous, item is the New York style gyro. Served as more of a deconstructed dish, it’s comprised of rice topped with lettuce, gyro meat, pita slices, and a generous saucing. Unconventional though it may be, we’d take it over the vast majority of the gyros we’ve tried locally.

new york style gyro

With the most expensive dish priced at $8, and many served for far less, Khyber is very good value for the quality of food and a great addition to the West Side.

Estilo Brazil Barbecue

brazilian food in Columbus OHio

Cuisine: Brazilian

4738 Cleveland Ave.
614-269-8990
Open Mon-Saturday 11am-9pm, Sunday 11am-6pm

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In the past, when discussing our penchant for visiting ‘by-immigrant-for-immigrant’ restaurants, we’ve occasionally been asked if we ever get the sense that we’re somehow intruding.

Almost without exception, the answer is no. Once the restaurant’s employees get a sense of our interest, and realize that we haven’t just haplessly stumbled into an experience we’ll reflexively dislike, the default reaction is one of distinct pride in their culinary culture and a strong desire to demonstrate its virtues.

Estilo Brazil Barbecue is a perfect example. There might’ve been an element of wariness initially, but once we demonstrated a bit of good natured interest to the folks running the show, we were smothered in kindness. Every aspect of the dishes they were serving was explained in great detail, and, from their perspective, nothing would be left untasted by us.

Which, as of our first couple of visits, wasn’t the task it might seem. Estilo Brazil is modeled after a Brazilian ‘PF’, which translates to mean ‘one dish, one price’. The dish may change from day to day, and their repertoire may grow to include some Peruvian offerings, but as this outdoor kitchen largely consists of a grill and a couple of burners for sides, we expect expect meat to be the primary focus.

On our last visit, that meant picuña beef and linguiça churrasco, served with beans & rice, yuca, and a pico de gallo-style sauce/relish. The picuña is a cut that isn’t commonly found in the US, and Estilo goes to some pains to procure it. The preference for it, though, becomes obvious upon trying it – it’s cooked medium, and sliced in such a way that there’s a flavorful little knob of fat at the top of each strip. Seasoned with a special churrasco-spiced sea salt, it’s an enjoyable and novel take on steak.

estilo brazil market, estilo brazil bbq

And it would’ve been our favorite part of the dish, if not for the linguiça – a type of Brazilian/Portuguese pork sausage. Seasoned in such a way as to emphasize the flavor of the (very coarsely ground) pork to a degree I’ve not experienced before, it was sublime.

As sides, the beans and rice were fine utility players, and the thick hunks of boiled yuca (aka manioc, cassava) made for a pleasant potato-like starchy accompaniment to the meat. Condiments include dried yuca (which we enjoyed) and a hot sauce that consisted of whole, round, not quite dime-sized hot peppers in oil.

Brazilian food columbus ohio

The outdoor restaurant, which has a pleasant tropical beach like feel, sits against a Brazilian market (called Estilo Brazil)

Estilo brazil bbq

As well as the new outdoor barbecue venture, Estillo Brazil has a juice bar in the back. We tried their passionfruit juice and the açai ‘bowl’. The passionfruit juice was pleasantly tart, and sweetened to order. We’re told it has a calming effect.

Brazilian market columbus

It might have, but we’re pretty sure it was cancelled out by the açai. This was blended thicker than a smoothie, and had a texture almost like a pudding, and was served in a shallow bowl garnished with strawberries, bananas, and oats.

Brazilian juice bar columbus

We were eyed wearily as we spooned up the viscous purple-black concoction; told it was an acquired taste and that we didn’t have to finish it. It tasted largely of blackberry with a hint of chocolate, and finished with a slight chemical-like aftertaste. Admittedly unusual, though mostly pleasant, we finished it without any sense of obligation.

And then the buzz hit. One of us is fairly sensitive to caffeine, and was feeling effects similar to a cup or two of coffee – might there have been guarana in the açai bowl?

Can’t say, but the ultimate result is that our house is very, very clean.

We also can’t say with certainty what the prices are for the dishes at Estilo Brazil – they weren’t posted, and both times we went they insisted we didn’t pay (no, we gave no indication as to our desire to write about them or our association with this website). Our recollection is that they were planning for the PF to be in the $6 – $8 range, which struck us as a bargain. Items from the smoothie bar ran from $3 – $6.

Koyama Shoten

japanese markets columbus ohio

Cuisine: Japanese
5857 Sawmill Road
614.761.8118
11am-8pm Tuesday-Sunday. Closed Mondays

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Koyama Shoten is a small Japanese market that has been open since 1986. While not as large or busy as Tensuke, you can nonetheless find some items at Koyama that aren’t carried at Tensuke. As such, it’s definitely a popular stop for Columbus’ Japanese community.

japanese markets ohio

One of the main attractions at Koyama is their bento boxes (available both for lunch and dinner) and ready made bentos are found on a small table at the back of the store, available from 12.30pm-8pm. If you don’t see any out there ask one of the staff. If you want a specific one and are short on time or have a large order it is advisable to call ahead.

bento boxes take out

Here’s the menu:
Sake (Grilled salmon) (pictured bottom right)
Unagi (BBQ eel) (pictured top left)
Karaage (Fried chicken)
Tonkatsu (Pork cutlet)
Hirekatsu (Pork fillet cutlet)
Yakiniku (Grilled beef)
Buta Shouga Yaki (Ginger pork) (pictured top right)
Korokke (Croquette)
Hambagu (Hamburger patty served with demi-glace)

Gyu-don (bowl with thinly sliced beef) (pictured bottom left)
Katsu-don (Pork cutlet with egg over rice bowl)
Oyako-don (Chicken with egg over rice bowl)

At Koyama, everything with the “don” suffix are served in bowls with a side of  Japanese pickles. All others are in the rectangular bento box with sides of pickles, vegetables and fruits. Each one comes with a small bowl of miso soup. These bento boxes are not as varied as most restaurant bento boxes often are – they consist of rice and protein with the aforementioned garnishes, but they are an exceptional value for lunch with most in the $5-6 range. It’s a simple and healthy take out lunch. We recommend the gyu-don bowl, the unagi and the ginger pork.

There is nowhere to eat at Koyama. It is strictly take out, but there is a nice little park a few blocks away.

Westgate Thai

Cuisine: Thai

3201 Sullivant Ave., Columbus OH
614.458.1165
Open 10am – 8pm, daily except Tuesday.

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Thai restaurants have been found in and around Columbus for quite some time, but… ummm, how should we put this… unadulterated Thai has been thin on the ground with Bangkok as the only game in town. But with the recent opening of Erawan, and now Westgate Thai, the full flavors of Thailand are steadily working their way into the city’s consciousness.

Westgate Thai operates out of the Westgate Import Market, and occupies the kitchen and dining area that previously hosted the lovably improbable ‘Lindo Mexican/Cambodian restaurant’ (the signage for Lindo is still up, if you find it you’ve found Westgate). Accommodations are basic, with perhaps 16 seats in total, but service is consistently kind and thorough.

The entirety of the staff consists of a husband and wife duo, with the wife in the kitchen and the husband manning the front of house. Given the small size of the operation, this has been more than adequate, and wait times have been entirely acceptable.

Pad Phrik King

The food’s been great. From the yum woon sen to the pad phrik khing to the nice selection of curries, we haven’t found a bad pick in the bunch… and we’ve probably eaten more than half of the menu. They’ll adjust for your taste in spicy heat, which is to say that if you like it truly hot they’ll be happy to take that as a challenge.

If, among the fairly wide selection available, you’re looking for a place to start, I’d recommend the khao kaphrao khai dao (my preference is with pork) – a potent shot of Thai basil mingling with garlicky porky goodness, served with an egg that’s been fried until crispy around the edges (but still maintains a runny yolk) and rice. Try it as the Thais tend to do, by constructing bites with pork, egg, and rice all on one spoonful (yes, Thais mostly use a fork and spoon at the table).

Yum Woon Sen

Prices are notably wallet-friendly – apps start at $.50, and entrees are generally between $5.99 and $6.99. Entrees are discounted by $1.00 for lunch business. We had a group of 5 eat to contentment and beyond, and walked out with leftovers on a $32.00 bill. A few vegetarian and pescetarian options are available.

We’d be remiss in neglecting to mention that Westgate Import Market itself is a worthwhile destination. Southeast Asian staples and curiosities make for great browsing (we rarely leave without buying something), and the family that runs it is friendly and welcoming in the extreme. They offer a variety of prepared foods near the checkout – we’ve particularly enjoyed the mildly sweet sticky rice desserts packed in lengths of bamboo.

La Favorita

mexican food columbus

Cuisine: Mexican

Sawmill Center Shopping Center
(approximately 7370 Sawmill Road – North of 270)

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The former (and original) La Michoacana has changed both name and ownership, but the menu and the food are mostly the same. We still love their Michoacana style steak (see original post below). La Favorita offers daily specials including the excellent carnitas (roast pork). Other specials are caldo de res (beef soup), caldo de pollo (chicken soup), caldo de albondigas (meatball soup), siete mares (seafood soup), pozole (pork and hominy soup), menudo (tripe soup).

ricos caldos columbus

One new item we discovered on our recent visit was tostada de cueritos (pickled pig skin). This is apparently a popular summertime dish. It’s not actually skin, it is strips of fatty cartilage beneath the skin which are boiled, braised and pickled and then served on a tostada.

bizarre foods in columbus, authentic mexican food columbus

Our original post is below:

best Mexican restaurant columbus

Cuisine: Mexican

Sawmill Center Shopping Center
(approximately 7370 Sawmill Road – North of 270)

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La Michoacana is a chain of Mexican markets – some with food service – that are found all over the city.  We’ve been to quite a few of them, ate at at least one, and concluded (to put it diplomatically) that the chain’s core competency lies on the grocery side of things.

Ccontrary to that conclusion, not all La Michoacanas are created equal. We’d heard from several people that the Sawmill location was unusually good, but put that info on the back burner until our most trusted source for all things Mexican practically begged us to join her there.

We did.  Making our way through the grocery section, we found our seats in the dining area at the back. Our server came to take our order, and we put in for a Michoacana-style steak, an order of carnitas (a weekend special), a milaneza torta, and a bowl of menudo (also served only on weekends).

We tried the Michoacana steak dish first, and it was good. Surprisingly tender, flavorful, salty and best with a generous squeeze of lime. We were already sold.

But then we tried the carnitas and it was the best we’ve had in Columbus. Not really roasted pork, this is more like confit of pork and it’s highly cravable. I should add that the beans, simple as they may seem, are also excellent at this modest little grocery store.

The Menudo here is the hangover cure of choice for Mexicans all over the city and again deserving of superlatives.

La Michoacana also does a great job with it’s Tortas and other taco truck fare. The NW of Columbus is sadly lacking in taco trucks, but this is where Dublin residents can fill their taco truck food cravings. This is the Hawaiiana torta with ham, pineapple, milanese (breaded steak), hot dogs, cheese, salad and avocado. Did you know that Mexican hot dogs are generally made with chicken?

If you have a sweet tooth there are some dessert offerings by the cash register and a freezer case of paletas (Mexican popsicles).

As it turns out, this La Michoacana was the first of many in town. The family that started the chain has long since sold off the rest of the locations to others – which probably goes a long way towards explaining the conspicuous variations among them. While all are great places to shop, this Michocana is the place to eat!

Euro Delicatessen

974 Galloway Road
(Galloway Square)
614.870.0723

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The business card says that Euro Delicatessen  is “A mini grocery store specializing in European Foods,” but this claim is modest -for anyone looking for Eastern European delicacies, this is a treasure trove. This clean, bright store sells candies, bread, packaged baked goods, cured meats, pickles, teas and a variety of other hard to find items.

Our attention, unsurprisingly, was mostly captured by the two refrigerated cases of sausages and pork products containing 3 or 4 types of bacon and many many types of kielbasa sausage including kabanosy and moldavska. Sausages hailed from countries including Russian, Poland, Hungary, Estonia and the Ukraine. We were given tastes of several of the sausages to aid in our decision making. It didn’t seen to help as each one seemed better than the last.

We were also interested in the wide variety of pierogi and pelmeni – almost twenty varieties mostly from Grandma’s pierogis in Toronto, but there were some homemade pelmeni.

There were also whole smoked mackerel and other smoked fish, cheeses, kvass (a drink made with fermented rye bread), kefir (a fermented milk drink) and, as befits somewhere selling pierogis, plenty of butter and sour cream.