Flaming foods: Kikyo

  • Jodi Miller photo
From the 07/29/2009 edition

Dol Sot Bi Bim Bap ($13.50)

Firestarter: Kikyo

Kikyo is a great, if kinda under-the-radar, Japanese/Korean restaurant out on Riverside Drive. Inside, it's friendly, relaxed and casual, but very tastefully appointed, with a fine sushi bar, elegant framed Japanese-themed art and lots of wooden slats that give it a peekaboo sense of privacy.

The heat is on ...: A coal-black, wide-mouthed stone pot superheated to thermonuclear temperatures it retains for a shockingly long time.

Hot! Hot! Hot!: Wow, this has got to be one of the absolute best bargains in Columbus! Preceding the main course is miso soup, a huge bowl of a chawanmushi-like soup (a rich, savory, custardy egg mass above a salty broth - also served atom-smashingly hot), and the most remarkable rendition of banchan (little pickly appetizers) in town - I counted 13 delicious small plates in all.

"Dol Sot" means stone pot in Korean, and "bi bim bap" translates to "mixed rice," and this meal translates to a smorgasbord in a single bowl with a surprise in every bite. On the pot's bottom is mounded rice that quickly grows desirably crunchy when it comes in contact with splashes of searing sesame oil (this makes a sound effect that reminds me of applause).

On top are compatible partners like beef, shiitakes, carrot and daikon threads, seaweed, and a raw egg that cooks in scant seconds when you mix everything together with a special chili paste (provided in a small lidded urn, it eats like spicy Korean ketchup). Wow again!