A new Chinese eatery in Columbus is offering dishes hot enough to keep you warm through this recent spate of frigid winter days.
ChiliSpot, located at 1178 Kenny Centre Mall, opened its first Ohio location (the original ChiliSpot is just outside St. Louis, Missouri) in December, and it’s been serving up a full slate of spice-forward Chinese dishes ever since.
According to owner Tommy Zhong, the new northside eatery specializes in Sichuan-style Chinese food, named after the southern Chinese province known for fiery cuisine packed with flavors from chilies, garlic, and the iconic sichuan peppercorn. A unique molecule found in this type of pepper is known to not only impart spice, but cause numbness of the mouth, a sensation that’s now a hallmark of authentic Sichuan food.
“We’ve always enjoyed Sichuan food, and decided to bring another authentic restaurant to the United States,” Zhong said. “Sichuan cuisine is not only very spicy, but it usually has the most variety out of the different styles of Chinese cooking.”
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And variety is most definitely a prominent feature of the voluminous ChiliSpot menu. Appetizers like Sichuan wontons offer a way to enjoy everyone’s favorite starter with a newfound kick.
If you’re looking to experience the unique mouth-numbing effect of Sichuan cuisine, look no further than the eatery’s Sichuan Cold Noodles. Usually served at room temperature, these heavily spicy noodles are a staple in this style of Chinese cuisine, and the generous use of sichuan pepper leaves the diner with a numb mouth and lips.
Another Sichuan hallmark offered by ChiliSpot is their Chongqing Spicy Popcorn Chicken. Named for a city in southwestern China, the dish features abundant chilies and Sichuan peppercorn adorning delicious bite-sized chunks of breaded chicken.
A personal Sichuan favorite of mine (and a popular dish at ChiliSpot as well) is Mapo Tofu, which includes flavorful tofu pieces served swimming in a beautifully savory, spicy, red broth.
Make sure to leave room for dessert. ChiliSpot offers deep-fried Chinese mini buns, pan-fried rice cake with brown sugar, and if you’re feeling adventurous, Sichuan sweet ice jelly, a sweetened bean starch jelly served cold that’s a favorite summertime dessert in the warm provinces of southern China.