1802 West Henderson Road
Restaurant Silla (pronounced SHILL-uh) dances on the border of what might or might not fall under the umbrella of alt.eats. Going against it is its longevity (in operation for 20 years) and the scads of reviews that paper the entry and give us every reason to believe it has been more than adequately covered. On the other side of things, it’s in a location that you’d never find if you weren’t on a mission (see photo above), and in spite of all of the coverage very few people seem to know about it.
That last part seems a shame, as Silla puts out some great Korean food. So, here goes…
Silla occupies a large space – on the order of twice what you see above – and includes a bar, sushi bar, and a stage for karaoke and other diversions. Cleanliness is an obvious priority.
Service was great. By reputation, this isn’t always the case – aside from the occasional grumbling you come across online, we’ve heard stories to the effect that non-Koreans have been strongly encouraged to stay within a ‘foreigner friendly’ range of menu offerings. We experienced nothing of the sort on our visit, though, and we hope that means they’ve sorted through the issue.
Our fried soft shell crab appetizer and banchan came out first. The crab, served on a bed of lettuce with a lemon slice, was nicely fried (not too oily), pleasantly crunchy, and only minimally fishy. Banchan included bean sprouts, marinated cucumbers, pan fried potatoes, and three types of kimchee (cabbage, turnip, and cucumber). All were good, and the non-kimchee offerings pleased with the flavor of sesame oil.
The first dish we tried was oh sam bul go gi –squid and pork mixed with vegetables in a spicy sauce. The sauce was sweet, garlicky, and appeared to be kimchee based (which is to say hot), and coated the tender slices of pork, slightly chewier than ideal squid, and crisp vegetables. A few jalapenos were thrown into the mix, just to drive the dish’s sinus clearing mission home.
Next, the beef bul go gi, which had been sizzling away in a cast iron pan atop a portable burner. It was brought to the table cooked rare, and the burner allowed us to finish to our liking. It’s a simple dish – marinated beef with green onion and garlic in the mix, and unsurprisingly, a crowd pleaser.
As was the kalbi – another straightforward beef dish, and one that a) always feels like a waste of an opportunity to try more novel Korean fare, and b) I am unapologetically smitten by, especially as prepared by Silla. What could be simpler – beef ribs marinated in soy sauce, garlic, and sugar? The magic is in the execution, in how Silla gets that grill-charred exterior without sacrificing tenderness. The big beef flavor of this dish should take the edge off of the sharpest of steak cravings.
On previous trips, we’ve tried the bi bim bap as well as a few other items, and all were solid. Silla has a significant sushi offering, but we have not yet sampled from it. There are several vegetarian offerings (though strict vegetarians should inquire about sauces), and pescetarians should be very happy here.
This is also a great place to get Korean dishes you normally won’t find in mainstream Korean restaurants. I’m glad I strayed and tried the “cavier” soup, which upon arrival came with large round veiny things which turned out to be the “caviar”: whole cod fish ovaries with tubes. I was in an adventurous mood anyway and the soup was good while the roe in the ovaries was quite dry. This isn’t the fault of the restaurant that’s just the nature of roe. I’m looking forward to coming back and trying some more dishes.
My favorite place in Columbus for Korean. I remember going here when I was in college when they were a tiny hold in the wall you had to walk down between two buildings to get to. (Right off of Lane Ave.)
This is my favorite Korean restaurant. I even got my mom to eat there- who is deathly afraid to try Korean- and she/we received excellent service. The woman who helped us was thrilled to encourage my mom to try something a little different and teased her a little bit (in a super friendly way). My mom loved it, which was a relief since I love it too 🙂
Long ago, that location was the Fireside Lounge. There was a Lowe’s movie theatre on the site of the Sears hardware store.
I’m not sure but I think before the theatre was built, this location’s door was at the end of the whole mall building, and it wasn’t tucked away like it is now.
I haven’t been there in a long time, I should check them out.
BTW get one of those butane burners, they are sweet. The best prices are in the Asian groceries like CAM on Bethel.
This place reminded me of new York. It is very authentic and like taking a trip for the night. The food is great and can be fun adventure. I had the salmon and tempura sushi roll. Excellent. If you want to get in onthe karaoke go later. It won’t start till after 9 pm.
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