When it comes to ethnic cuisine in Columbus, we're fortunate that authentic Chinese is a strength, and NE Chinese, which replaced the hot pot eatery Secret Vessel last year, is certainly among the best. The hot pots are still here at this Old North location, but chef Jian Liu also treats customers to authentic Dongbei-style cuisine from Northeast China. You don't eat here for cutting-edge interior design—our reviewer John Marshall called it “school-cafeteria plain”—but you should go to explore a fascinating menu with Korean, Russian and Mongolian influences. Some of the hallmarks of Dongbei cuisine are its stews and pickled vegetables like suan cai, a pickled cabbage similar to sauerkraut. Dumplings and noodles are also more common in Northeast China than rice (although it's certainly served here). Try the Hot and Sour Fern Root Noodle appetizer featuring cold and chewy black noodles bathed in spicy heat and vinegar. The region is also known for its use of fresh vegetables, as in the restaurant's Mixed Veg Salad, combining clear bean sprout noodles, cucumber, carrot, scallion and cilantro in a rice vinegar dressing. Meanwhile, spice lovers will fall for the addictive Cumin Potato dish or the Spicy Pork with Cilantro, a dry stir fry absolutely teeming with dried red chilies and Sichuan peppercorns.
Order Up: Cumin Potato
Sliced into disks and fried crisp, these potatoes are then tossed in a fragrant mix of dried chilies, garlic and cumin seed. We dare you to eat only one.