We’re fortunate to have a lot of great Chinese food in Columbus, although we’ve lost a few favorites in recent years. Fortune was a beloved hole-in-the-wall near campus that fell to new development, while Hong Kong House was a go-to for big groups enjoying Szechuan favorites.
But thanks to several friends who have recommended it, we’ve discovered the new ChiliSpot, in the Kenny Centre mall just south of Henderson, backing up to the Japanese Marketplace that includes Akai Hana, Tensuke Market, and Belle’s Bread.
ChiliSpot features one main dining room, brightly lit and lined with deep booths. The wallpaper boasts a variety of English words and phrases related to food, while a pair of TVs place different Chinese shows and music videos.
We’ve been twice (with many more visits planned), and here’s what we’ve tried:
Chengdu dan dan noodles. Rich, oily, and spicy. A must.
Spicy Sichuan wontons. My personal favorite item. Someday I’m going to come here and just eat three orders of this all on my own. Again, a rich, fragrant oil that douses the delicately folded wontons.
Braised Shanghai greens with mushrooms. All cooked until tender and it a slightly sweet sauce.
Sichuan shredded pork in garlic sauce.
Another set of favorites: Chongqing spicy popcorn chicken (this made me think of Hong Kong House) + a similar preparation with fried fish. All tender inside and wonderfully crispy on the outside, well spiced and loaded with those fragrant and slightly numbing peppercorns.
Sauteed potatoes (although I can’t remember exactly which ones from the menu). Very aromatic. Reminded us of the cumin potatoes over at N. E. Chinese Restaurant.
With our boys we usually take a stab at General Tso’s chicken, and ChiliSpot’s version didn’t disappoint.
On our second visit we explored some desserts, which was new territory for us. First, pan-fried rice cakes with brown sugar. Dense but crispy cakes that don’t have a lot of flavor on their own, but are enhanced by dredging them in the sweet brown sugar sauce.
And finally, the Sichuan-style sweet ice jelly. It’s essentially a clear gelatin topped with crushed nuts, raisins, and a spoonful of the brown sugar sauce. It may cause some to halt based on the texture, but I found it to be a lightly sweet and almost cooling dessert after a spicy meal.
That said, we haven’t had a bad dish at ChiliSpot, and while we may not be adventurous enough to try dishes with kidney or intestines, we’ll certainly be back many more times to work through the menu.