Meshikou – Spiciest Dish in Columbus Series
If you’re looking for an excellent ramen spot in Columbus, Meshikou has you covered. From an all around perspective with mood, sides, and ramen combined, this is our favorite ramen spot in Columbus.
We’ve covered the Red Dragon Ramen at Fukuryu in the past and Satori Ramen’s Kara Kapow, but had yet to try out Meshikou’s Spicy Mala Ramen. The lady of the farm and I have been going to Meshikou since 2014 and it is our all-around favorite ramen restaurant in Columbus. The atmosphere is perfect for a date night or a quiet meal, with dimmed lights, limited seating and bar seating where you can watch them make all of the food. It reminds he quite a bit of her time in Japan and the starters drive that home.
Up first is the Karaage, chunks of fried chicken with a sweet and spicy sauce. Drizzled on, the sauce is a perfect pairing, accentuating the lightly seasoned, lightly breaded bits of juicy chicken that await. “Marinated chicken chunk fried to perfection served with a spicy house citrus dipping sauce.” The slight tang of the sauce makes it pretty addictive and it’s one that the lady of the farm can’t get enough of. While it’s not one of the spiciest sauces, it has a kick that demands some respect.
Typically we choose the Karaage or the Barbecue Chashu Buns as a starter, but we went with both this time around. The Chashu Buns are “Soft steamed buns stuffed with braised pork belly seared to perfection and drizzled with our house barbecue glaze.” On top you’ll see mayo, greens and a homemade pickle. We’ll go ahead and say that these are the best Chashu Buns in the city. If you disagree, pleeeeease let us know because these are amazing. All of the flavors combine for a delicious appetizer and the mayo helps accentuate the sweet and savory flavor of the barbecue. The buns are about as light and fluffy as you could hope for.
Karaage and Chashu Buns are probably enough for one person to eat and leave happy and even for two it’s a decent amount of food, but we were here for the ramen! We’d had the Fireball Miso Ramen and Fireball Paitan Ramen previously (named as such because of the ball of spicy garlic paste), but someone recommended the Spicy Mala Ramen as a spicier alternative. We were skeptical, but then the dish arrived.
The Spicy Mala is extremely red. Just look at those colors. Taking a whiff, the lady of the farm picked up on the chili oil pretty easily and got a little too close to the julienne dried peppers. No major recoil, but she was definitely curious how it would be handled. I like to go soft-boiled egg first, so I snagged that, picked up on some of the broth and continued on my way.
The Mala is a Silky Paitan Broth with an infusion of their house sichuan tare. Tare is an essential ingredient in ramen and is the primary delivery system of the salt and umami in the broth. The sichuan base brings a kick along with it, but with just the noodles, I wasn’t picking up on much of it. It was spicier than I expected, but the noodles didn’t seem to be bringing much of the broth with them. The braised pork painted a spicier picture, and the kikurage mushrooms had sopped the broth up a bit, giving them some heat. The noodles here are excellent. Easy to bite through and not insanely long strands, the ramen noodles at Meshikou are top notch.
Once the toppings and noodles were gone, I gazed down at the bowl of red liquid that lay before me. I had Red Dragon flashbacks, but nothing so far had scared me with this ramen broth. I picked up the bowl and started working through the remainder (on a 90-degree day, why not). Broth alone, I realized why this was on some lists as having high heat. The sichuan tare base punches you in the mouth and sits at the back of your throat. Not in a scary way, but a “yo, we’re going to just hang out here for a few, cool?” way. My nose started to run and my forehead started to produce some sweat. The perfectly balanced broth packs a bit of a wallop and I was pleased with its heat level.
I was pleased with the level of heat the Spicy Mala Ramen was able to bring to the table. It’s a fantastic dish and did not change my opinion of Meshikou being the top spot for ramen in Columbus. The question you’re all waiting for, where does it stack up with the spiciest dishes in Columbus? If you don’t drink the broth, this is in the lower third, sitting with Amul India and Rooster’s Nu-Killer wing sauce. If you complete the bowl, the heat from the broth takes this up to middle of the pack. We’re even going to say that it surpasses Woody’s Wing House 5th Degree Wings and at the time of this writing lands at #11 on our list.
Overall Meshikou is a fantastic spot. We’ve never had anything there that we didn’t enjoy and can’t recommend it enough. We’re unsure if this is still the case or not, but previously they were not doing ramen takeout for craftsmanship reasons, something along the lines of “it comes out at the perfect temperature so we want it to be perfect for you, therefore you must be here to eat it.” If that’s still the case, props for sticking to your guns there.
You can find Meshikou at 1506 Bethel Rd Columbus, Ohio 43220.
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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