Spiciest Dish in Columbus Series: Kirin Noodle Bar
Last year we spent a lot of time with wings and this year it looks like we’ll be spending lots of time with noodles. We’re not mad and we hope you’re not either.
Kirin Noodle Bar doesn’t only do noodles though, they have a tight menu with steamed dumplings, rice dishes, dim sum, fruity teas, and a nice array of appetizers. Sitting in the plaza on North High Street just north of Whetstone and south of Henderson, it’s got a spicy friend a few doors down in Hot Chicken Takeover. With an intimate indoor setting, it’s possible it could get a little cramped, but given the state of things, tight spaces is not a concern. They are currently open for delivery (via at least UberEats) and takeout.
Where to begin?
Kirin’s menu gives you a nice indicator of what is an is not spicy with a little flame next to the title, so we did a quick pull and got (from top left to bottom right) Chasu Pork Buns, Soup Dumplings, Popcorn chicken, and Fried Egg Rolls. The pork buns were awesome, with nice BBQ innards and a soft, fluffy bun. The dumplings were pretty good, and even better after pouring the soy sauce/vinegar combo in. No heat on either, so we’ll continue on to the Popcorn Chicken. “Fried diced chicken with crispy layer, and chili powder” thus the red cloud covering the top. We closed this up and gave it an additional shake. The breading is light and while there is heavy use of chili powder, the heat never really registers. A bit surprising, but shrug. And then the egg rolls were just plain…what. What. WHAT IS THIS SAUCE WITH THE EGG ROLLS?!
Two things. One, these are some of the only egg rolls we’ve had in Columbus that season the outer shell, which is crunchy, but not over-cooked. Two, this sauce is great. It’s a sweet and spicy chili sauce (thai chili peppers perhaps) and is an amazing compliment to the egg rolls. You know that Spongebob episode where Patrick eats his candy bar and then wonders where it went? Similar case here and I almost unleashed the rage of the Lady of the Farm by eating her egg roll because I was so entranced by this sauce. Thankfully she slapped it out of my hand and shook me back to reality. It’s the perfect level of sweet and hot, but not too thick. The less-heat-than-expected popcorn chicken now had a spicy bath to soak in. Do not sleep on these egg rolls and honestly, probably good to just ask for some of this sauce on the side if you get any appetizer. This was one of those fun moments where the Lady of the Farm went running across the room to retrieve a drink to quell the heat. Never not funny to watch, though her tolerance is increasing.
On to the “flame by the name” Kirin BBQ Chicken Wings. “Fried chicken wings dressed with Kirin special homemade BBQ sauce.” Just look at those wings. A thick sauce that glows bright red and so many seeds!! Just kidding, those seeds are sesame seeds. Taking a bite, the sauce is definitely heavy and thick, packs a bit of a sweetness, but little heat. No nose sniffles or sweat. Thicker sauces tend to be killers in our list, but this wing sauce just doesn’t have the pepper power to make much happen. The wings are interesting because they’re not crispy, but they’re still well cooked. Not sure if it was the trip home, but the skin was still soft under the sauce. Good wings overall, but didn’t register on our spicy radar.
On to the main event, the Spicy Beef Noodle Soup. “Slow-cooked braised beef soup, topped with baby bok choy for a pop of color and crunch, dressed with Kirin special spicy chili sauce.” It’s always a bit weird to pour broth in ourselves because broth of noodle dishes are artistic masterpieces that tend to be perfected over years and years and we don’t feel worthy to dump it into a bowl. Regardless, we did, and noticed some whole chili peppers in there, a good sign that we were in for a spicy treat. The Lady of the Farm did the initial honors, taking a piece of meat and some noodles. A slight cough, a look of despair, followed by putting the bowl down. Surprisingly though, she put up her hair and tried again. Eyes wide, nose sweat starting to accumulate, she took a few more bites, put it down and tapped out. “I can’t … handle the heat … in like … blahhhh.” Side-stepping the incoherent speech I picked up the bowl.
First a slice of the braised beef. Well-seasoned and thicker than we typically see, the beef is awesome. A little bit of heat from the liquid it had soaked up, but overall a better piece of beef than most noodle bars in Columbus. The noodles are thicker, but are nice and soft. They carry some of the heat and as I ate more of them, the heat started to build. As is custom, I took a few sips of the broth to really get into the heat. A chili pepper tried to lodge itself in my throat, but I choked it down (not today Satan) and took a few more sips. Setting the bowl down, hearing another loud sigh from the Lady of the Farm, the heat dissipated. We’ve had spicy noodles before that stuck with us, but the Spicy Beef Noodle Soup from Kirin Noodle Bar falls as quickly as it rises, hitting a nice mid-level spicy plateau before backing off. Not much linger for me and only a slight tingle on the lips a couple of minutes after. It’s a good bowl, but where does it sit in our list?
We’ve got some awesome noodle dishes on our list and this one is goign to sit nicely at #25, just behind Bamboo Thai Kitchen’s Extra Spicy Green Curry and above the Bru Burger Melt Your Face Burger. The other noodle dishes that are close by are higher because they linger longer and the heat sticks with you for longer. Still a great option, but the spicy staying power isn’t there.
You can find Kirin Noodle Bar at 4227 N High St, Columbus, OH 43214 and be sure to check their Facebook page for updates during COVID-19.
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!
You've read about spicy, now try the spicy
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