Category Archives: Korean

Poong Mei (Spring of China)

Cuisine: Chinese
4720 Reed Road, near Reed and Henderson.
614.273.9998

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Poong Mei Asian Bistro is the restaurant also/formerly known as Spring of China. The owners realized that the original name was misleading as their offerings span Chinese, Korean and Japanese, but the transition to a new name seems to be very gradual. We were told that Poong Mei means successful in Chinese, tasty in Korean and beautiful in Japanese and the owners thought that all of these were auspicious for their business.

The menu is divided into Chinese/ Western, Chinese, Korean/Japanese and Korean and there are some interesting selections in each. Our interest was piqued by a rumor that they made their own noodles in house, which indeed they do – there is a whole page devoted to them. They also make their own dumplings from scratch.

The restaurant has a little more of a Korean feel than Chinese, especially when we were presented with a banchan-like selection of kim chi and  pickles.

The dumplings are available steamed and boiled. On the advice of our server we opted for the steamed. The dumplings were large, and the dough on the thicker side, but both the filling and the dough were obviously freshly made. The filling was pork with vegetables and was fragrant with ginger and with flecks of scallion. My understanding from the menu is that the boiled dumplings have a thinner skin and there are 15 in the serving.

The same filling is used for the pork buns. As you can see the portion size for both is very generous and certainly good for sharing.

We wanted to try the noodles and opted for zha jhang myun – hand made noodles with chopped vegetables, pork and shrimp in black bean sauce. The black bean sauce had more of a fermented smoky flavor than the store bought versions – it was pure umami. The texture of the hand made noodles was good, but the dominance of the black bean sauce made it hard to discern their flavor.

Salt and pepper crispy squid is one of our favorite dishes at Yau’s and we decided to order it for the sake of comparison (and because we can’t resist crispy squid). They were more battered and crunchy than Yau’s and were utterly addictive.

The last dish we tried were the crispy tofu balls with bok choi and ginger and garlic sauce. The tofu balls (which contained shrimp as well) were really good and a pleasant variation on the usual tofu preparations. While the outside was crispy the inside was deceptively light and moist. Perhaps a dish that could win over tofu skeptics. 

Poong Mei has enough range in its menu to please both fans of American Chinese food and more intrepid diners with everything from sweet and sour chicken to boiled pork feet, sea cucumber and jelly fish.

Arirang

Cuisine: Korean
1526 Bethel Road
614.459.8070
Open until 9pm

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Arirang was first recommended to me by a Hungrywoolf reader (Thank you Molly). It has become my favorite place for Korean food, and I thought that it was still a wonderful secret until G.A. Benton from Columbus Alive wrote his humorous post about it this week.

From the outside you would never guess that this little grocery store has a restaurant in the  back. You order at the store’s front counter and then take your ticket to the open kitchen at the back of the store. Find a seat and wait to be signaled to when your food is ready. There is no table service so you go up to the counter and collect it yourself. The menu has recently been updated and is in English and Korean with a clear indication of which dishes are spicy. There are three price brackets ranging from $4.95 up to $8.95.

With its extremely bright fluorescent lighting and slightly sterile feel, Arirang is not somewhere to go for the atmosphere but what it lacks in ambience it makes up for with the food. It is also extremely clean, good value and you can do some shopping while you are there.

Your meal will come with the traditional banchan (a selection of small dishes, including the requisite kimchi.) and there is an urn of complimentary barley tea as well as a water cooler.

My favorite dishes tend to be the spicy ones but there are plenty of options for people who do not like spicy food. Some of the beef soups are very lightly seasoned. The dolsot bibimbap (mixed rice in a stone pot) is also not spicy and comes topped with lots of vegetables, sprouts and kimchi. The egg was fried with a soft yolk rather than the raw egg that is often served. As well as large steaming bowls of soup and noodles there are also stir fried dishes and I really enjoyed the stir fried pork.

The picture at the top of the post is kim-bap, a Korean roll (a vegetarian sushi style roll) and we have enjoyed the crispy pancakes both mung bean and seafood.

The soups are extremely hot in temperature and usually arrive at a rolling boil. If you are really hungry, order a pancake or a roll to eat while you wait, to prevent searing your mouth. Also a good idea not to go right before they close – it’s hard to eat steaming food in a hurry!