5788 Columbus Square
Columbus, OH 43231
Columbus has a sizable Somali population, and all too often it flies under the radar for being so insular. People, business and yes, restaurants, are clustered in a few neighborhoods leaving the wider city unaware of the great things in its midst. Hoyo’s Kitchen is a really great chance to break out of that. “Fast Casual Somali” food isn’t a novelty – not really, because this city has a lot of Somali food if you know where to look. But more than any other one restaurant, this one is bridging the gap and promoting understanding with its neighbors of other cultures.
Curious about the cuisine? Here’s a chance to try it.
- Hilib Ari: This traditional braised goat recipe is signature Somali cuisine. Bathed in peppery spices that add a little heat to an already hefty meat. Served bone-in, just to warn you.
- Chicken Suqaar: This cubed chicken is served with a more familiar round of spices like turmeric and paprika for a taste something more like a curry. Stir-fried vegetables add a crunchy dimension.
- Injera: The traditional Ethiopian sour flatbread, which is made to be torn off and used to dip in all the wonderful veggies. In this case it’s wrapped and served cool, which lets you experiment a little.
- Fried chicken: The additional spices mixed in with the chicken here like curry and coriander makes for a really interesting bite. A serving comes with plenty of drumsticks, so you have to like those.
Somali food isn’t exactly easy to pack up and walk away with – in fact the traditional presentation of meats, lentils and veggies atop a bed of injera is often meant to be enjoyed with a group seated around a feast in a slow motion. But that food is preserved well even blended with the grab-and-go nature of a Midwestern American city. And the way the food is presented specifically – with familiar spices and techniques that show its inherent charm – is a really nice touch.
The addition of the new North Market stand has also brought the food into a neighborhood that has an under exposure to Somali cuisine, even in a city with a population as concentrated as this one. And that shows; the stall often has a line before the lunch rush even begins.
- Dinner portions are massive and probably best when shared at the original restaurant.
- The North Market stand is very convenient for grab-and-go meals which isn’t the case with most other Somali food.
- Hilib Ari would be the first thing I suggest trying.