Whether dining out or at home, here's where to find some of the city's best grilled meats
While late spring may be when most of us start to think about rousting our grills from hibernation, for many in Central Ohio's immigrant community, grilling knows no season. Considering the broad diversity of grilling methods, styles and contraptions, one is left wondering what truly qualifies as grilling versus merely cooking. As a general rule, grilling means cooking over a fire so that its high heat can impart the delicious effects of the maillard reaction (a deep browning of the exterior).Here are six local eateries where you can enjoy global grilled fare and four area international markets to seek out if you prefer grilling at home.
At Gogi Korean BBQ you get to have it your way, as gas-fired grills are embedded in the center of your table and diners are encouraged to prepare meats to their liking. Gogi offers a wide variety of thinly sliced meat cuts—some marinated, some not—including beef, pork and chicken. A customer favorite is the kalbi: beef short ribs marinated in a mix that includes soy sauce, sliced onions and grated Asian pear.
Jeddo Kabab takes its namesake seriously by meticulously grilling skewered lamb, beef and chicken over charcoal. The flavorful Persian kebabs can be ordered two ways: “barg” (cubed chunks of meat) or “koobideh” (ground meat formed around the skewer). Grilled salmon, shrimp or vegetable skewers are other options, and all of these dishes are served in the traditional Persian style with saffron-spiked basmati rice, grilled tomato and a pat of butter.
El Pollo Perucho represents the Peruvian rotisserie chicken craze in Columbus with its impressive charcoal grill box that continuously rotates whole chickens, keeping the poultry away from direct exposure to the fire's intense heat. The resulting chicken is juicy and tender with a perfectly crispy and nicely seasoned skin.Adventurous types may also want to try the anticuchos, skewered slices of grilled beef heart.
Similarly, Los Guachos controls exposure to high heat by rotating its signature al pastor meat on a vertical spit across an open flame. Garnering accolades both locally and nationally (and deservedly so), this delectable marinated pork is then shaved off into tacos, gringas and other dishes to order.
The Mexican food truck Los Potosinos shows off grilling at its most essential with its specialty: pollo al carbon or marinated and seasoned chicken grilled outdoors over charcoal. The recipe is a secret—owner Lidia Labra claims only five people know it (and she wouldn't tell us), but her irresistible combination of preparation and a well-honed grilling technique keeps customers returning to this truck in the King-Lincoln District.
Wycliff's Kitchen keeps it simple with its weekend-only special of nyama choma, a Kenyan dish of charcoal-grilled beef or goat. Though perhaps slightly tougher than comparable cuts of beef, the goat features a surprisingly enjoyable flavor that combines the best of beef and lamb with a hint of smoke.
Grilling At Home
The broadest range of Korean barbecued meats can be found precut, marinated and ready to grill at Arirang Oriental Market. The butcher counter/kitchen is in the rear of the market and features a price list illustrating the range of available prepared proteins in both Korean and English. Popular staples such as kalbi (beef short ribs) and bulgogi (marinated slices of beef or pork) can be found next to more unusual preparations such as moksal (pork shoulder) and hangjungsal (pork jowl).
To bring the flavors of South Asia home to grill, look no further than Apna Bazaar. Its butcher counter provides a wide range of seasoned meats as well as custom cuts of lamb and goat. The tandoori chicken is a customer favorite, available both as bone-in dark meat and boned white meat. Apna's proprietary marinade brings out a delightfully appealing terra cotta-colored char once cooked.
Both La Plaza Tapatia and multiple La Michoacana locations offer a wide array of Mexican take-home grilling opportunities, with chuletas ahumadas (smoked pork chops) and chorizo (spicy pork sausage) prominent among them. Novelty seekers may want to try their hand at nopal (edible cactus pads, often grilled and sliced into salads), while others may enjoy the pre-made fajita mixes. All locations will have fixings for flank steak-based carne asada, a traditional preparation that reaches its full potential when prepared on a charcoal grill.