Author Archives: hungrywoolf

Raspados y Nieves La Laguna


Cuisine: Mexican Desserts and snacks
5455 Norton Center
Columbus, 43228

Long term readers of alt.eats.columbus know that we have a soft spot for eateries hidden in the back of ethnic markets. Recently we’ve found something even more curious – a Mexican dessert cafe that’s hidden behind a laundromat. There’s something a little surreal about walking through a laundromat, with the characteristic smell of detergent and dryers, and then suddenly finding yourself in a spacious restaurant offering milkshakes, smoothies, fruit cups and ice cream.


Raspados are the biggest seller at Laguna. For the uninitiated, these are shaved ice cups that are flavored with mostly homemade syrups, condensed milk and other toppings. At Laguna they are adorned by an umbrella. For their Mexican customers who love a combination of sweet, icy and spicy the most popular is the Diablito which is topped with homemade tamarind syrup, lime juice, chamoy sauce, spicy powder, hot tamarind candy and chopped mango. Chamoy is made from pickled fruit and is salty, sweet, spicy and sour. The ice is shaved to order and it’s fun to watch them assemble the raspados. We enjoyed the nuez (pecan).
Other novelties include lagunadas which are comprised of diced fruit, sorbet, chamoy sauce, spicy powder and hot tamarind candy. Esquimos or ‘skimos’ are a traditional type of Mexican milkshake that is made with milk, sweetened condensed milk and a flavor and are foamed in a special machine to make the drink light and airy. American style milkshakes are also available.
Laguna served over a dozen flavors of homemade ice cream with flavors ranging from dragon fruit to burnt milk. Mango is pictured below. The paletas (Mexican popsicles) aren’t made in house but they have plans to make their own as the business grows. Snacks, fruit juices and a wide variety of fruit cups are also available. There’s a lot of variety to explore.
Laguna is a great summer stop if you’re out on the west side looking for something sweet, cool and a little different. Spice is optional. We’d also recommend a stop at Playa Larga’s taco truck, a little further south on Norton Road for some shrimp empanadas and ceviche.

Estilo Brazil


Cuisine: Brazilian
5818 Columbus Square, Columbus, OH 43231
(614) 269-8990
Open Monday-Saturday
The last time we visited Estilo Brazil at it’s old location on Cleveland Ave., we were charmed by the flavors of the cuisine and the tropical vibe of their small side patio. We also could clearly see that the tiny back-of-the-market space just wasn’t up to the task of producing much food or accommodating many guests… especially in Central Ohio’s temepramental climate.

With the opening of their new, larger Columbus Square location, the seating’s better, the menu’s expanded, and the concept is clearer – alongside the bright, clean market sits a Brazilian PF, or ‘prato feito’, a popular traditional style of Brazilian dining.

PF is described as the working man’s meal, and as such we’d say that the working man has it pretty well off. The fundamentals are straightforward – beans, rice, a starch or two (usually fries), salad (potato or lettuce), and a rotating roster of proteins. For us, the proteins are what makes the concept shine.

Currently, two options are consistent – the linguica calabrese and picanha. The linguica, a spiced pork sausage reminiscent of a Filipino longaniza sans sweetness, makes for a pleasant and generously portioned accompaniment to the beans and rice, but the picanha, strips of beef sirloin rump cap, steals the show. Picanha is sliced so that each strip features a small knob of gristle-free fat at one end, and cut against the grain so that a reasonable degree of tenderness compliments the deeply beefy flavor of the cut. First timers can opt for half longaniza and half picanha, which makes for a good overview.


A rotating third meat option is also available, and as of both visits it was described as a Brazilian version of a chicken stroganoff. Tempting though it was, the picanha and linguica won out for us both times.

Ordering is simple as the entire operation is structured as a cafeteria line. Once you’re at the beginning, lids come off of all of the food and it’s as easy as pointing to what you want. With small quantities of food being staged, the kitchen seemed busy with preparing refills for the steam table and as such freshness was consistently high.

One of the consistent sides is Paçoca de pilão, dried beef that is mixed with toasted cassava flour and ground until very fine.


All of the dishes we tried were almost entirely devoid of spicy heat, but the remedy awaits, should you desire it, in the form of a variety of bottles of hot sauces on the counter. Beverages are limited to cashew fruit and passion fruit juice, though a wide selection of bottled and canned drinks are available in the market.

Portions are generous, and a run through the line will set you back $11, which strikes us as a bargain. In the context of Columbus Square offerings, Estilo Brazil may not feature the most exotic or adventurous range of flavors, but it’ll undoubtedly provide a damned good square meal at a reasonable price.


Hamdi Grill

somali restaurant columbus

Cuisine: Somali
1784 Huy Rd, Columbus, OH 43224

Hamdi Grill is a new Somali restaurant that opened this week. It is located just south of the Northern Lights shopping center on Cleveland Avenue.

The interior is surprisingly polished and a lot of money has been invested in the build out.

The menu is fairly large and includes drinks (not pictured).

hamdi grill menu

Of the dishes that we sampled (beef kebab, roasted goat, salmon and chicken stew) we’d probably give the nod to the chicken stew (aka suqaar) and would recommend the rice. We found all of the dishes to be solid but you can find better versions at other Somali restaurants around town. However, Hamdi Grill is in the first week and still getting up and running. They are waiting for their coffee machine to be installed and did not have all of the dishes listed on the menu.

As is typical of Somali restaurants the portions are large. Pictured below Somali chicken stew (suqaar) with chapati.

somali chicken stew

Salmon with pasta

somali restaurants in ohio

Asia Market

asian markets columbus ohio

3456 Cleveland Ave, Columbus, OH 43224
(614) 261-6118
Open daily 9.30am-7.30pm (10am-6pm on Sundays)

We’re a bit remiss in not having covered Asia Market before… they’ve been open since 1981. It’s a large, high ceilinged market featuring an eclectic array of goods that cater not just to Asian tastes but also offers plenty of Latino and African products. Curiously, they also have the largest selection of ‘vegetarian meats’ that we’ve ever seen including vegetarian pork belly. The photo below does not show the whole case.

vegetarian food shopping columbus ohio

Even beyond that, culinary curiosities abound. The frozen fish section is huge and varied, black skinned chicken can be found, as can octopi of all sizes. It’s a great browse, and a clean and well-stocked market.

To the right side of the store (relative to the entrance),  sits a partioned area that acts as a small restaurant. There are seven tables, a TV and, notably, a high chair. The menu is very small and offers two appetizers (egg rolls and spring rolls), three noodle soups, bun cha gio thit nuong, banh cuon, and Vietnamese coffee.

Asian market cleveland avenue

The bun cha gio thit nuong was solid but not exceptional. It’s comprised of cold vermicelli noodles topped with salad, grilled pork, and egg rolls, and comes with the usual fish sauce based dressing to pour on top.

bun cha gio thit nuong

The bun bo hue was a bit disappointing. The broth was watery and heavy on the fish sauce but insufficiently meaty and spicy. Usually this dish is fragrant with lemongrass but that seemed to be lacking too. The beef was a bit of a lottery, a couple of pieces were tender and flavorful but several were inedibly chewy. There was some tendon and some slices of pork loaf but no pork blood.

vietnamese spicy beef soup

The bun rieu – a vermicelli soup dish usually made with a crab and tomato based broth – was the highlight of the meal and the dish that we would go back for.  It contained fish cake, shrimp (or crab?) paste, fresh shrimp and pork loaf, and had a pleasing dose of funk from the fish sauce and seafood.

vietnamese food in columbus

Vietnamese coffee is the only beverage on offer at the restaurant. It’s made to order and comes either black or with sweetened condensed milk and can be consumed hot or over ice. Other (canned or bottled) drinks can be purchased from the store and consumed in the restaurant.

vietnamese coffee

We probably wouldn’t recommend Asia Market as a destination for Vietnamese dining, but if you have some shopping to do and want to grab a bite while you are there then it’s good to know about. Our advice would be to order your food first, then shop and come back to the restaurant – service was a little slow.

Addis Restaurant

IMG_3447Addis Restaurant
Cuisine: Ethiopian
3750 Cleveland Ave
Open lunch and dinner every day. Until 10pm on weeknights and 11pm on Friday and Saturday.

With the closing of Blue Nile in the north campus area, Ethiopian food had become an east side affair. And, while we like Ethiopian food, we haven’t craved it enough to schlepp out to Hamilton Rd. with any regularity.

The owner Niman knew that a larger proportion of the Ethiopian and Eritrean population were on the North side, unserved by a restaurant offering their national cuisine, and with the opening of his Cleveland Avenue restaurant, Addis, he has made the cuisine far more geographically accessible for them, and for us.

The dining room is clean and pleasant, in an orderly no-frills kind of way, and service is unwaveringly pleasant and eager to answer questions. The menu is tightly focused, with less than 10 dishes, though 10 more are understood to be on their way in the next couple of weeks.


While we’re eager to see what the menu expansion may bring, we were more than happy with what exists. We tried the mahbarawi platter with tibs, and added the zillzill tibs, a beef short rib dish. The mahbarawi platter also included 4 vegetable dishes and salad. All of the dishes are served together on a larger sharing platter with some hot sauce.

ethiopian food in Columbus

The tibs, a beef stew was, to us, the best rendition we’ve tried so far – spicy, complex, and delicious. The platter can also be ordered with chicken.

The zillzill tibs, on the other hand, was entirely new to us, and amounted to a tasty curiosity. It consisted of chunks of beef short rib meat, and the menu listed it as seasoned with garlic, black pepper, onion, and green chili. True though this may be, the flavor struck us as faintly teriyaki-esque… which was not bad, by any means, but more than a bit surprising.

Accompaniments included lentils, cabbage, and spinach, and all were up to snuff. The injera bread as good as any we’ve had, and was conspicuously fresh. Portions, as always with Ethiopian food are plentiful. Dishes are cooked to order and Niman was keen to point out that dishes like kitfo can be cooked to your taste – anywhere from rare to well done. We were also asked what level of spice we wanted. As is traditional with Ethiopian food be prepared to eat with your hands.


We also enjoyed Ethiopian tea and coffee and Niman told us that on Friday they prepare traditionally prepared Ethiopian coffee and offer samples to customers.

La Bendicion

la bendicion

3872 E. Main St.
Columbus, 43213
Open 8am-7pm Mon-Sat (closes at 6.30pm Wednesday)

Here’s a quick post on an east side food spot of note; La Bendicion is a fun little Guatemalan owned bakery that opened recently on the Main St.

guatemalan bakery columbus

The bakery sells a range of bread rolls, pan dulce (sweet breads), cookies and pastries. We really enjoyed a flaky pastry with a sweet cheese filling.


However, our favorite item was the freshly made churros. Obviously made by hand, they were the lightest, airiest churros we have found in Columbus and, still hot from the oven, they were absolutely delicious.

latin bakeries columbus ohio

We’ve seen La Bendicion products on sale at Mi Bandera on 161, and you may see their wares popping up in other Latino markets around town. It sounds like they also make cakes although none were available to try during our visit.

Menya Noodle House

menya noodle house

Menya Noodle House
3503 Market Street
Powell, 43065
11am-9pm Saturday & Sunday

Early in 2013 we read that Luce had a new Japanese owner and was being rebranded as Luce Nuovo. More recently, they’ve cordoned off a section of their restaurant (including a separate entrance) to open Menya Noodle House, a weekend-only ramen shop that debuted this weekend.

ramen in powell ohio

Menya offers three ramen broths – shoyu, miso and tonkotsu. The miso had already sold out, so shoyu and tonkotsu it was for our group of 3. We unanimously prefered the tonkotsu (pork bone broth, pictured below). Nice and rich and meaty, we thought it to likely be the best tonkotsu broth in the city. The shoyu, by contrast, struck us as fairly average.

ramen in columbus ohio

The pork belly topping was sliced into long bacon-like strips. It was tender but otherwise indistinct, and a more traditional chashu would have been preferable. You can order extra seaweed, egg or pork belly toppings, though they were out of eggs on this visit. Both the ramens that we sampled were served with thin ramen noodles.

ramen in ohio

There is a small selection of appetizers, including cold tofu with ginger and bonito (best eaten with the provided soy sauce) , edamame, and several rice dishes.

japanese food in powell IMG_3289

You can also order from Luce’s Italian offerings, printed on the back of the Japanese menu.

For more on ramen in Columbus check out our article for Columbus Crave.