Cuisine – Chinese
1070 E. Dublin Granville Rd. 43229
In a nutshell, there are 3 things worth knowing about Helen’s:
1) They serve some great Chinese dishes including soup dumplings, the first we’ve encountered in Columbus.
2) As good as Helen’s is, it promises to get better in some interesting and exciting ways.
3) Well… we’ll leave #3 to the end of this write up.
Regarding point #1 – Dumplings are a distinct specialty of the house. There are quite a few on the menu – shao mai (AKA shu mai), boiled pork, shrimp, and vegetable varieties, and steamed beef. All of these were enjoyed, with special nods going to the boiled beef dumplings and the Shanghai style shao mai.
But the dumpling we came for was the xiaolong bun (aka xiaolong bao, and spelled either way they’re the aforementioned soup dumplings). They’re the rage in Chinatowns all over the US, and some in our group of 6 had been craving them since visiting China and trying them there. An uneasy mix of anticipation – I want a good soup dumpling! – and dread – these are going to be a disappointment, aren’t they? – lingered at the table.
And then they arrived. To my eye they didn’t look like anything special, but then again, from my perspective Chinese dumplings rarely do. They’re delicate, and partially filled with a broth, so great care is required in moving them from the steamer basket to your plate without puncturing the wrap and creating a leak. The pros in the group took a small bite out of the wrapper, slurped from the rich broth contained within, and… declared Helen’s soup dumplings a winner.
It’s easy to see why. The broth is unfathomably rich and delicious, and the experience finishes with eating the wrapper and the pork-sausage-like nugget within that’s been marinating in the broth. Absolutely memorable, and a steal at 10 dumplings for $7.50.
Having more than satisfied our dumpling desires, we moved on to a few of Helen’s other dishes. Her crispy pork pan-fried noodles were deemed an excellent example of the genre, and the Chinese broccoli dish made for a satisfying counterpoint to all of the richness that came before.
On to #2 – Good as it already is, Helen made a point of letting us know that her restaurant is a nonetheless a work in progress. House-made noodles are an anticipated addition, Chinese hot pots are a promised future offering, and even dim sum may be in the cards. Some of these additions sound as though they’re related to the impending arrival of Helen’s husband from China.
Alright, now for #3. It a point that seems silly to make much of, but once inside it’s something that’s hard to ignore. Helen’s occupies a large and meticulously clean stand-alone space… that clearly was previously a strip club. Mirrored walls, a stage, and some curious lighting are clear indicators of the building’s previous purpose. Once seated, this may strike you as curious, entertaining, or perhaps even vaguely unsettling, but it won’t go unnoticed and it’ll very likely lead to some lively dinner table conversation.
At least until the food comes out, at which point I feel confident in saying that Helen’s kitchen chops will quickly become the focus. We’re thoroughly enthused by her current offerings, eager to see what’s to come, and highly recommend checking Helen’s Asian kitchen out.
A must try! I am a complete fool for dumplings of any kind, but the soup dumplings sound incredible!
My wife and I went there for lunch today. Helen was charming — a wonderful host. The dumplings brought me right back to my 2006 trip to Beijing. The xiaolong bao were perfect — a little sweet, a little smoky.
Amazing. Will be back many, many times.
Yet another fantastic recommendation. The chinese broccoli was perfectly cooked with a delicious garlic sauce. The pork pan-fried noodles were especially noteworthy: a great balance between crispy and saucy. Will definitely return.
Awesome review! I accidentally came across your site looking for a menu for a particular Vietnamese restaurant, and I’m glad I did. Great site, beautiful reviews. Keep it up – Mike
Thank you for sharing such great information! We went there for lunch yesterday and ordered Chinese broccoli, pork pan-fried noodles and xiaolong bao, and also beef chow fun for to-go. Just like Patrick said, we loved both broccoli and pork pan-fried noodles. Because xiaolong bao is my 3-year-old son’s favorite, we would order it again though, it just tasted the same as the frozen one we purchase at Chinese grocery store. Thanks to you, we no longer need to eat at the rude Sunflower restaurant. The people at Helen were very nice!
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Ha ha ha! We took our four year old to Helen’s because we were craving xiao long Bao so much. “Mommy, what are all the mirrors for?” Food was good, but we’ll be ordering take out from now on.
Yes! Soup dumplings! Can’t wait to try this place!
i have to go to nyc for my fix for xiaolong bao fix. i even tried making it but so much work. can’t wait to try!
the dumplings were indeed yummy but how many people can make a dumpling fifteen of them an entire meal. the vegetarian dumplings were good not splendid nor terribly interesting. this is not a restaurant for complex or interesting flavors the rest of the food on the menu is average to good but nothing spectacular / what was spectacular was the warm and friendly service…………….now if they could only add just a bit of creativity to the food it might make it an interesting destination but as it is …………………..boring…………….another good point is no msg!!! so yes for the dumplings, yes the broccoli is nice but in general your ordinary ho hum food nothing different or exciting for someone who has eaten chinese food often…………….we have so many chinese restaurants dear owner must distinguish her place to be even a little different………………aside from the dumplings?/////////////how about a dim sum menu????
My 1st time at Helen’s, I tried the Xiaolong Bao (Soup Dumplings). They were very good and unlike anything I’ve had before. I will be back to try the other handmade dumplings. Only thing that would’ve made it better would be a dinner show with strippers.
We live very close and eat here at least 2x a week! Its the best, freshest Chinese we’ve ever had. I hope they get busier as word gets out, b/c once you try it, you will be back. We haven’t had any other Chinese since we tried Helens. And the customer services is amazing. They will do anything to make their customers happy! Please give it a try, you won’t be disappointed, prices are very reasonable and servings are huge!