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Restaurant Review: Hae-Paul’s

Miriam Bowers Abbott Miriam Bowers Abbott Restaurant Review: Hae-Paul’s
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There are all sorts of reasons to like Hae-Paul’s downtown. First, it’s got bona fide royal lineage in the local dining scene: the restaurant is the start-up project from Chef Paul Yow, a chef fresh off a fifteen year tenure at Barcelona. Second, Hae-Paul’s is a family run business; it’s owned and operated by Yow and his wife, Hae Ran.

Third, the service there is engaging. It’s a sit-down spot with a style that makes guests feel comfortable and at home. Nothing stilted, nothing fake: the Hae-Paul’s team just seems glad to see you, and they’ll remember you on repeat visits.

As for the food, that’s reason number four. The menu blends distinctly different dishes with traditional comfort elements.

The Pulled Pork Cake (a brand-spanking-new menu item, $8.50) is a prime example of comfort mixed with art. It’s difficult to know what to expect from a “pulled pork cake”. What arrives is natural-tasting shredded pork (with a touch of old-school pepper), magically formed into the shape of a disc and given a little crispy finish. The hearty, homespun disc sits atop chilled soba noodles (inky dark) that have been tossed with sesame oil, tender spinach leaves and slivers of carrots.

Also new to the menu is Paul’s Sloppy Joe ($8). It’s different from Mom’s Sloppy Joe, in that Paul (and Hae-Paul’s kitchen) seems to use some uber-high quality ground beef to make the meaty filling. It’s clots of beef, not mealy grounds, and the clots comes in a generous, flavorful supply with pickles and romaine on a focaccia bun.

Then there is the Korean Bulgogi ($11.25), it’s slivers of beef infused with a sweet-and-savory seasoning and combined with a colorful collection of zucchini, carrots and spinach and barley rice. It might not qualify as a typical comfort food, but a bulgogi addiction is a vice worth having.

It’s hard to resist ordering the Korrito ($7.65). While fusion food might have been all the rage a few years ago, the dining movement typically combined European and Asian cuisines. Korean Burritos are a road less traveled, but a compelling path at Hae-Paul’s. The kitchen wraps up a generous supply of soft sesame beef with rice, cilantro and romaine, plus a soybean hummus to make a gloriously filling and (oddly) comforting combination.

There are some specials on the menu too. Highly recommended is the Salmon ($13); the achingly velvety fish flesh gets a little crisping on the sides. It’s presented on a mammoth pile of black noodles tossed with fresh spinach. Hae-Paul’s version is one of the nicest things to happen to salmon in Columbus.

There are a few sides on the menu, they’re served with sandwiches. The coleslaw is a dry slaw (not sloppy) with the flavors of kim chee. It’s interesting, yet, it’s hard to pass up the potato wedges: perfectly fresh, fried potato chips.

Hae-Paul’s can be found at 79 S. Fourth St. It’s open Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 11am until 4pm, and later (until 8pm and 9pm, respectively) on Thursdays and Fridays. The restaurant has added Saturday hours: 1:30-9pm. That’s a prime time for suburban adventurers, as Fourth Street is glutted with easy parking opportunities on weekends.

More information can be found online at www.hae-pauls.com.

Photos by Mollie Lyman of www.fornixphotography.com.

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