Huli Huli – Spiciest Dish in Columbus Series
If you’re looking for a breezy time and a bit of respite from the cold Ohio winters, Huli Huli offers you some rest and relaxation.
In the cozy downtown of Powell, you can find Huli Huli sitting on the main street, safely tucked inside the DORA zone (Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area). That means in the summer you can wander the downtown area, tiki drink in hand, monching on some of the tasty shareables that Huli Huli has to offer. Opened in 2019, Huli Huli stays away from the cliche aspects of a tiki lounge, opting for more traditional foods and drinks.
Feast your eyes above on the tasties from Huli Huli. In this corner (bottom left) we’ve got the Chicken Katsu Bao Bun with Bang Bang sauce (listed as mild) with some scallions. A crunchy chicken and a chewy bun, plus a side of fries? Easy choice. Then there’s the coconut shrimp in the bottom right with a cup of dipping sauce that almost tasted like a sweet and spicy thai chili sauce. Well-sized portions, especially for the price ($9.50 and $8.00 respectively).
Not featured are any of their drinks, but the drink list includes House Tiki Cocktails like classic Mai Tai, Hurricane, or Zombie, as well as Daiquiris, Old Fashioneds, Beer, Wine, and Non-Alcoholic beverages. Huli Huli even marks the drink strength meter for you so you have a better idea of the level of booziness within.
Before we get into the salad, Huli Huli has an easy system of building your meal. First, the proteins: Grilled Shrimp, Kalua Pork, Chicken Katsu, Grilled Chicken, Spam (yes!), Fried Tofu, or Beef Patty. From there you have the option for a Bao Bun, Salad, or Rice, covered in any of their five topping choices: Pineapple Salsa, Pickled Carrots, Spring Mix, Cucumber, and Scallions. Finally, you can top it all with their house-made sauces (more on that below). Your plate ranges from $7.85 to $9.50, with the option to add additional protein for a few extra bucks. As salads go, this one was gigantic.
“A spicy salad?” I hear you scoff. In these pandemic times, it’s easy to pack on the pounds whilst providing a spicy ranking service to the city we love, so sometimes we have to get a bit creative.
Enter the “Build Your Own Plate” at Huli Huli in Powell. Puffing out my chest as I ordered online, I got not one, but TWO side cups of the Huli Huli sauce, their spiciest, for the salad. As I retrieved the food, a tiki glass hopped across the bar, gave me a wink and a nod and sent me on my way.
As one does with side cup sauces, I gave a taste test, pinky in (because I’m a fancy gentleman), and gave it a try. A burst of sweetness gave way to some tang, then a zing at the end. No heat. I passed it to The Lady of the Farm. Slight heat, no nose sweat. We were at least on the right track. I dumped both containers onto the salad, gave it a vigorous shake as one does, then began to swim through the greens, pork, and chicken.
Mostly island breeze, with no volcanic eruptions in sight, the Huli Huli has the slightest creep of heat. A small rustling of capsaicin in the palm fronds then a smash cut to sandy beaches and warm ocean waves. It’s kind of like those eye floaties where if you concentrate really hard, it appears, otherwise it’s barely noticeable. Mind you this is the spiciest of their five sauces: Unagi, Wasabi Mayo, Teriyaki, Bang Bang, and Huli Huli.
Heaving the half-eaten salad into the fridge for the next day’s lunch (I’m not afraid to admit it was a hefty chonkin’ salad that I couldn’t finish), I thought about where the Huli Huli sauce landed on the list. While it created the spiciest salad I’d had, it is in the lower fourth of our spicy dishes, landing at #89. This puts it above Flip Side’s Chili Pepper Burger and just below The Crafty Pint’s Ghost Pepper Bison Burger. Understandably, this is a place to go for refreshments and not for setting you on fire (though we hear in the summer there are tiki torches that could do that).
You can find Huli Huli at 26 W Olentangy St. Powell, OH.
Look below for more in our spiciest dish in Columbus series and hit us up if you have any suggestions that are not already on our list!
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