I have to tell you guys, ever since I read Lisa’s review of the bi bim bap that she had at Diaspora, I’ve been craving it. And I’ve wanted to check out that place ever since, but have been dreading dealing with parking on campus, which is a nightmare even when school isn’t in session.
So my mission was clear. I needed to find a restaurant in Columbus that would give my my crunchy rice fix, without giving up my firstborn for a parking space. And the kicker? We started our search at 10pm, so it had to be somewhere that was open late.
After a quick internet search, we found out the place to go in town for bi bim bap is Restaurant Silla, a little spot with an almost exclusively Korean clientele sandwiched in an alley in between Sears and Spud’s near the corner of Reed and Henderson on the Northwest side. And a bonus? They’re open until 2am every night, except for Monday, when they are closed entirely. I did take pictures, which came out a bit blurry – excuse the lack of quality shots tonight.
They brought out a bunch of little dishes, which come gratis and give one a sampling of different Korean delicacies such as kimchee of different sorts (standard cabbage, daikon radish, cucumber), an eggy fishy flat noodle dish, lightly pickled cucumbers, and mung bean sprouts. A nice introduction to dishes unfamiliar to me, and quite generous of them, actually.
My husband and I split an order of potstickers ($6.95), which were standard thin-skinned meat gyoza (and the flavor of the meat was incredible), fried to a crisp and served with an appropriately salty dipping sauce.
Speaking of salt – we both got the impression that one seasons their own food in a Korean restaurant with the assortment of sauces (soy, chili, etc) and oils that are brought to the table with your dish. There isn’t a standard salt and pepper shaker, and it is necessary to season your food. I appreciate that they allow one to do that to one’s own palate rather than assume that one can handle a certain level of salt or heat.
My husband, in the mood for sushi, got a Rock ‘n Roll ($12.95), a huge tempura roll filled with tuna, salmon, eel, cream cheese, and avocado. It easily competes with our favorite sushi haunt, Sushiko. We may come back just for the sushi alone. The fish, which is raw in this roll, was extremely fresh.
For his entree, my husband chose the safest dish to order in a Korean restaurant – bulgogi ($14.95). Served on a chafing burner, the tender meat and flavorful brown sauce stayed piping hot throughout his meal. It’s a very simple dish – meat and sauce and onions, and would appeal to just about anyone.
I, seeking to sate that bi bim bap craving, went with the Dol Sot Bibim Bab ($12.95), which is steamed rice topped with vegetables, beef and a fried egg served in a sizzling stone hot pot. Needless to say, the crunchy rice at the bottom (which continues to cook as you’re eating the dish) was easily the best part. Seasoned to taste with chili sauce, sesame oil, and soy sauce, it made my day. I’m officially addicted. I’ve got to say, though – it’s a HUGE serving. I took as much home with me as I ate.
They have karaoke here on evenings after 9pm, but no one was singing when we were there. It looks like a fun scene.
Also, when looking online, there were several negative reviews saying that non-Korean people would be treated poorly here – I can honestly say that our experience was so pleasant, that we didn’t find that to be true in the least. Our waiter was attentive, patient with our many questions, and quick on the ball when it came to refilling our water and making sure we had everything we needed. We will happily return to Restaurant Silla any time we crave Korean.
If you’d like to go: Restaurant Silla, 1802 W. Henderson Rd, Columbus, OH 43220, 614.459.5990, Tues-Sun 11am to 2am