787 Bethel Rd.
Columbus, OH 43214
Columbus has numerous Asian restaurants, thanks in part to a growing international population. But even there, the shades of what makes for a good restaurant and what does not are apparent, and Jiu Thai Asian Cafe is one that makes the cut, even if in a quiet way. The hand-pulled noodles – lamian – are a treasure of local Chinese food on the mainland, twisted and pulled carefully to create a unique and soft texture that sits well with meats and broths of many kinds. Want a real, authentic Chinese food option few others in town offer? Come to this place.
The noodles are the first and most important thing to try on the menu, by a long shot. Some of the best:
- Red Oil Beef Hand-Pulled Noodles: The basic noodle except served with a red oil paste that brings a quick and rising heat. Beef or lamb, both on the stronger end of flavor, counter the noodle well. It’s cooked so it’s not doughy.
- Xian Steamed Cold Noodles: More popularly known as liangpi, these noodles are notably served cold with a special focus on a lighter broth and milder flavors, like wood ear and chives. Good any time of the year.
- Oxtail Soup: Oxtail, served bone-in, is a unique kind of meat with a notable gristle and memorable bite. This soup comes with a thin broth – a little fennel and ginger complement the oxtail juices.
- Biang Biang Noodles: These are notable for being thick, long noodles popular for their heaviness and heft, lots of pepper flakes on top and some other milder veggies make these wonderful noodles heavy on the flavor absorbing everything around them. Best with the spice on the overload.
Owing to the cultural differences and some of the more dressed-down style of a Chinese street food-style restaurant, this one has an air of informality to it; the food is served quickly and service is spartan and focused on a quick and food-focused experience.
All told, the experience is the epitome of a real hidden gem of a dining experience; certainly you walk in with an open mind and you leave wowed. It’s the kind of person who really gets this food and the cultural considerations around it that has the best kind of experience, and that’s just something you should have to get the best experience as soon as you walk in. There are a thousand restaurants out there serving Americanized pseudo-Chinese food catering to local tastes, this isn’t one of them.
A must of a Columbus dining experience.
- The hand-pulled noodles here are a real rarity, get whichever one you can but definitely select from that smaller menu.
- Dumplings, too, are a good option here, because they aren’t limited to the dim sum,
- Consider this a good place for a fast bite; not really natural to linger.