Another Chinese standout comes to Columbus.

Here’s a hot take: Columbus has great Chinese food, if you know where to look. Sure, we may not be Flushing, New York, but the diversity of our Chinese food options is growing all the time—from the Sichuan fare at Hong Kong House to the dim sum at Ty Ginger Asian Bistro to Dongbei-style dishes at NE Chinese Restaurant. Add Xi Xia in Kenny Centre Mall to that promising list. 

Xi Xia is named after an ancient empire that existed from 1038 to 1227 and once covered what is now China’s Ningxia autonomous region, the homeland of the restaurant’s owner, Luzhou Sha. Considered to be in Western China, Ningxia cuisine has strong Muslim influences, with lamb getting a lot of play on the menu.

A meal at Xi Xia starts off with complimentary small bites similar to banchan, the orderly little snacks offered before a meal at Korean restaurants. They might range from familiar edamame to more novel wood ear mushrooms (aka edible jelly fungus). The small snacks masterfully prep the taste buds for what comes next. 

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For starters, skip the waffle fries (huh?) and order the addictive short ribs or the Taiwanese salt and pepper chicken, which is similar to Japanese karaage.

If you order one thing at this orderly and efficient strip-mall spot, make it a noodle dish, such as a large bowl of comforting tomato and egg noodles (which lean sweet) or the flavorful Signature Stirred Noodles. 

The latter consists of delightfully chewy house-made noodles, bok choy and thin slices of beef topped with a mound of minced garlic and chili flakes. The dish comes alive when, using a spoon and chopsticks, you toss the noodles, veg, beef, garlic and red flakes in a broth hiding at the bottom. At only $11, it was one of the best dishes I had all year. 

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