Cheap Eats: One-Dish Asian Bowls

Staff Writer
Columbus Monthly
Pho at Huong Vietnamese

These hot Asian dishes are pure comfort for your taste buds. Here, a brief primer on one-dish Asian bowls that took thousands of years to perfect but will cost you only a 10 spot to try.

Bibimbap at Restaurant Silla

The Korean dish found a following this year as Chipotle-style chains starting riffing on the one-bowl meal. Traditional form piles beef and sauteed vegetables-like still crispy carrots, bean sprouts, cucumbers-atop steamed white rice. Restaurant Silla's Bibimbap ($9.95) sticks to tradition, adding a raw egg yolk, which, when mixed with the chili sauce, creates creamy texture and smoky flavor. 1802 W. Henderson Road, Northwest Side, 614-459-5990,

Ramen at Jobu Ramen

Though many dispute Jobu's ramen isn't 100 percent authentic, they've got to acquiesce when it comes to taste. Chef-owners Michael Kopfman and John Franke coax deep flavors from their pork-, chicken- and veggie-based broths. Bowls are packed with al dente noodles made by the famed Sun Noodle Co. (the recipe, the owners say, is theirs) and a variety of colorful vegetables. Ten bucks will get you steaming hot veggie ramen. 1439 Grandview Ave., Grandview, 614-481-5480,

Pho at Huong Vietnamese

When Huong Pham took over Huong Vietnamese in 2008, she knew how to make pho. But she still spent a year traveling to Vietnam to tweak her recipe to perfection. In the end, the broth combined both north and south Vietnam approaches. Broth, prepared 50 gallons at a time (they'll go through three pots of soup on a weekend night), is seasoned with beef bones and marrow and the right portion of anise. "You can't cook pho without it," says Pham's daughter They Nguyen. The trick is using the right portion so the broth is both flavorful (indicative of the north) and fragrant (the trademark of the south). 1270 Morse Rd., Columbus, 614-825-0303,

Hot Pot at Siem Reap

The trendy cook-it-yourself fondue restaurants of the '90s have nothing on the hot pots at Siem Reap-an unassuming Cambodian gem across from the casino. Broth arrives at the table in a simmering pot on a portable burner, leaving the cooking to the diner's discretion. The Simply Hot Pot ($12.98) at Siem Reap could easily feed two to three, and the garlicky broth imparts rich chicken-soup-like flavor on the bounty of uncooked veggies and proteins that accompany. 375 Georgesville Road, West Side, 614-279-2903,

Udon at Diaspora

Of all the bowls here, udon is perhaps the simplest in flavor and presentation. But that's its beauty-it's like ramen's easy-going cousin from Korea. At Diaspora on Campus, the umami dashi broth is seasoned with dark soy sauce and brightened with mirin (a sort of low-alcohol sake), and comes with long and spongy wheat-flour noodles. The pink-and-white pop of color in the center is thinly sliced kamaboko-red-skinned cake made of white fish. 2118 N. High St., Campus, 614-458-1141,