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One of my favorite things about living in Columbus is that it always continues to surprise me. It sounds hyperbolic but there genuinely is something new to discover every single day and usually, the best gems are hiding in plain sight.
As I’m sure you can imagine, we get a lot of suggestions in regards to places to eat and things to do around this city.
Every now and then, one slips through the cracks and then when you finally set out to have that experience, you end up kicking yourself for waiting so long.
That’s exactly what happened to me when I went for my first visit to Kuya Ian’s Bistro near Westerville. I can’t count the amount of times that people have suggested having a bite at this tiny, family-owned Filipino restaurant. Now that I’ve finally been, I’m sad for all the time I’ve wasted.
Like so many fantastic eateries around the city, Kuya Ian’s is nestled in an unsuspecting strip mall.
The indoor dining space isn’t small or fancy. It felt nostalgic when I walked in, which is always an odd sensation when you’ve never been to a place before.
Since we were dining in, we grabbed some menus from the front counter before sitting down to peruse. I genuinely wanted to order just about everything on the menu, but I settled on a few different options. I knew I had to try some of their noodles. They were recommended (for good reason) but everything else was a spur of the moment decision.
After changing my mind about a hundred times I headed back to up to the counter to order. Ultimately, we decided on a Siopao (steam bun with pork filling), Pancit Bihon (rice noodles with veggies), grilled BBQ chicken skewers, and of course, some halo halo for dessert.
First up was the steam bun. I have to be honest, this wasn’t anything to write home about. The flavor of the pork filling was great but the bun itself was a little dry. Luckily for me, as soon as I took a bite of the rice noodles, all negative thoughts and feelings would leave my mind entirely.
I think I will probably think about how good the noodles were for the rest of my life. They were perfectly cooked and the flavor was so comforting. It started raining just as we left and I couldn’t help but think of how a good book, a big bowl of those noodles, and a rain storm would be the worlds most wonderful combination.
Alas, it was time to move on to the main dish, of sorts, the barbecue chicken with rice.
It feels weird to wax poetic about white rice, so I’ll try to keep myself under control here and just say that the rice was delectable. It had the perfect sticky-but-not-too-sticky consistency and it comes topped with roasted garlic. Once you add in the perfectly cooked and seasoned chicken, you can see why I’m raving.
The portions at Kuya Ian’s are generous, to say the least. And I am also happy to report that both the noodles and the chicken and rice made for excellent leftovers.
We ended our visit to this hidden gem with a Filipino dessert called halo halo.
Halo halo is a drink of crushed ice, coconut or evaporated milk, and a bunch of other toppings including ube jam, flan, fruit preserves, mango ice cream, and more. The drink needs to be stirred up before you consume it, perfectly blending all of the various flavors together.
The halo halo at Kuya Ian’s is pretty large and although I didn’t finish all of mine, it wasn’t for a lack of trying or desire. It was delicious.
I can’t wait to go back to this charming little eatery. After all, I said I wanted to order the whole menu and I meant it.
You don’t have to take my word about how great Kuya Ian’s is. The restaurant was named one of The 28 Essential Columbus Restaurants by Eater.
Kuya Ian’s Bistro is located at 6863 Flags Center Dr, Columbus, OH 43229. You can visit their website at kuyaians.com to take a look at the menu or order online.
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