Restaurant Review: Restaurant Silla

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

It's BCS bowl time again. Yeah, the Buckeyes are going to unhook the loathsome Longhorns in the Fiesta Bowl - at least they better! But in this nose-reddening weather, the BCS equally stands for (at least in my cold and hungry world) Big Chill-killing Soup bowls. And for that I often like to go Korean.

One such can't-miss operation is Restaurant Silla, out on Henderson Road. Simply furnished with lots of blond wood, this casual restaurant has got it all - family friendliness, adult beverages, a huge real-deal menu replete with semi-explanatory color photos and kooky karaoke later at night (you're on your own with that one).

To the point, Silla features a lengthy lineup of excellent heat-you-up-in-a-hurry bowls of soupy sustenance.

But first I recommend starting off with their Hae Mul Pan Jun ($12). It's a rich and luscious "seafood pancake" that easily serves four as an appetizer. Cut like a pizza, it eats like a Korean frittata, and when the seafood in the pancake isn't overcooked (which is most of the time), it's a real knockout.

OK, moving back to the bowls, but continuing in the key of fish, I give two big ladeling-out fins up to Silla's Dae Gu Gi Gae ($14). It's a massive cauldron of spicy, pale-orange broth chockfull of hulking hunks of cod, dropped egg, bulky blocks of silky tofu and various veggies like thready bean sprouts, Napa cabbage and thin white swaths of daikon radish. Talk about healthy and delicious!

Plus, there's no threat that this spicy and very voluminous texture-fest will ever grow cold on you, because the thing is delivered with its own personal heating system -a portable single burner on which the slurper controls the flame.

Also arriving with its own tableside range top, but more in your face with chili punch, is the Kim Chee Ji Gae ($14). Though this soup bowl is marginally smaller in size, it's bigger in taste than the cod, as funky kim chee plays off sweet long-cooked onions, pork chunks, jalapeno, silken tofu, sesame oil, plus "unfermented" cabbage. I find its searing hot broth to be totally addictive.

As a bonus, these wonderful soups are served with banchan - small plates of Korean nibbles that might include homemade pickles (great), thinly sliced fish cake (really good and surprisingly sweet), more varieties of kim chee and so on.

Restaurant Silla

1802 Henderson Rd., Northwest Side