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Goes Up To 12: Westgate Thai

Within this unassuming market front lies some seriously
delicious Thai home cooking
While my spouse and I have been seriously upping our tolerance for heat-laden foods, we both acknowledge the king of this particular culinary talent in either of our immediate families lies with my Thai brother-in-law. One of these days on a return trip to the San Francisco Bay Area, we vow to go out to a Thai restaurant of his choosing to see whether we've moved to at least a stone's throw of his ability to handle the heat (not to mention grab some very tasty Thai eats to boot.)

Were he to venture out here to Columbus, there was a time we weren't sure we could find a Thai restaurant that could meet his standards based on our experience...that is, until we found ourselves on Columbus' west side one weekend and walked into the Westgate Import Market.

Westgate Market is truly a mom and pop business, owned by a Vietnam-era veteran and his Thai-born wife. Like many of its fellow smaller Asian markets in the Columbus area, this market stocks items centered toward a particular country or select set of countries. Not surprisingly, Westgate's products are geared toward the country of Thailand, from music CDs to household products to culinary staples and more.  If you can't find a particular Thai-oriented product here, you may not be able to find it elsewhere in the area.

The bonus aspect of this market, however, lies toward the back where you'll find a small collection of tables and chairs and a picture menu of various Thai dishes. Yes, Westgate Market also has a small restaurant space that serves up Thai specialties.

Westgate Market provides the customer not only a plethora of Thai-oriented
products, but also a menu of that country's dishes.
The "pop" portion of the market's ownership duo takes your orders, while the "mom" cooks the dishes back in the kitchen. He warned us, along with another group that had wandered in just after us, that they served their dishes on a spice scale from 1 and 12, and that most typical Americans would feel uncomfortable with anything 4 and over. Our fellow diners took that advice to heart, keeping the spice levels pretty low, but we were game for something more. Perhaps with a little wary eye from our host, we ordered our dishes at a good solid 9 on their spice scale to test the waters.

Pictures of Thai dishes also dot the paper menus at Westgate and
include such dishes like the Khao Kaphrao Khai Dao (upper left),
Spring Rolls, and the Pad Prik Khing
We started off with some nicely prepared spring rolls and then proceeded to the mains. My go-to choice at Thai restaurants is generally the Pad Prik Khing, which Westgate happily had on their menu and who am I to break with tradition? My spouse, on the other hand, took the advice of Alt Eats Columbus in their writeup of this restaurant and went with Khao Kaphrao Khai Dao, a dish we never recalled seeing at other Thai places.

As promised, our food came out with the requested heat quotient, giving us a pleasing burn that many other claimed "Thai spicy" dishes at other restaurants failed to deliver. But these creations weren't just pure heat bombs: both dishes were scrumptious, with hints of garlic, fish sauce, basil and other flavors darting within and among the dominant veggie and meat taste profiles.

Westgate's version of Pad Prik Khing was the best I've had at least in recent memory; with that said, I think my spouse's dish was actually better.

The topper to the experience are the prices, which were quite inexpensive for both the quantity and the sheer taste factor of the dishes we ordered. Our only regret at this point is now we live farther away from this part of Columbus after our recent move. Perhaps this just means my spouse and I will have to find more excuses to get down to this part of the city more often.

(Note: Westgate Market is actually owned by a Cambodian couple, who had run the uniquely combined Cambodian-Mexican eatery Lindo (the sign for which was still viewable at the time of our visit) at a prior time. The market's kitchen space has since been leased to the couple who runs Westgate Thai. Thanks to the folks at Alt Eats Columbus for the clarification!)

Westgate Thai
3201 Sullivant Ave (Westgate/Hilltop)
Columbus, OH 43204
(614) 725-5660
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