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The Capsaicin Chronicles (Pt. 1): laa gòn and chôhk dee, Westgate Thai

Alas, the spicy and delicious concoctions of Westgate Thai are
soon to disappear to the public at large in a matter of days
As one may have figured out from other posts on this blog, my spouse and I do have an appreciation for hot and spicy foods. We feel fortunate that we have been able to seek and find plenty of opportunities in the Columbus area to push our abilities and test those tolerance levels. Even more rewarding is that many of the dishes we have sampled have not simply been one-note heat bombs but rather flavorful, well-made preparations.

Such is the case with Westgate Thai, a little eatery hidden in the back of a market which was written about just a few months ago in this blog post. Similar to Hot Chicken Takeover, a place also known for their spicy fried chicken (and written about in this blog post), Westgate Thai's dishes come at adjustable spice levels. Gary, the husband and co-owner of the restaurant, makes sure everyone knows that these levels go from one through twelve, and that most people find level four a bit too hot.

We had no such compunctions, so we asked for a nine on our dishes. However, we suspect that we may not have received that heat level based on some reader feedback which stated that Gary usually doesn't give you the requested burn level until he gets to know you better. Even with that possibility, the burn level on these dishes was still quite pleasant; however, the play of the heat with the sweet, sour and tangy profiles we received in our dishes was the real revelation here. These dishes were definitely a step up from dishes from other Thai restaurants we've tried so far here, thanks to the expert hand of Gary's wife, Westgate co-owner and chef Mali,

I figured I would be writing a revisit post a couple years from my original writeup, but alas, the march of time leaves no one behind, and Gary and Mali have announced their retirement from the restaurant business come the end of this week. We made sure to sneak down there at least once again on what seemed to be a sinfully slow Monday evening business-wise a week ago or so.

 

Perhaps the little insider's info we received about toning down spice levels was confirmed on this visit. Despite us saying we had done a level 9 on our first visit and were ready for the proverbial full monty of 12, Gary gave us a little bit of a wondering stare and marked down a level 10 on our orders of Pad Thai and Yum Woon Sen. Mali herself came out during the middle of our meal to check how we were doing, encouraging us to up the spice level with the assorted chili oils on our table if we felt like adding some heat (and who are we to say no to the chef?)

Again, we received a pleasant burn with these two dishes, and the fresh ingredients and seesaw of flavor profiles that were evident on our previous visit's dishes were present here as well. My spouse's Yum Woon Sen, with its bean thread noodles and hunks of protein (here, beautifully cooked shrimp and ground pork) reminding a bit of the mish-mash of ingredients that go into Filipino pancit and its bihon noodle base. The Thai fried egg rolls we ordered as an appetizer also reminded me quite a bit of the Filipino renditions, save for the nicely spicy dipping sauce.

It may have been a brief flirtation (we ourselves will try to get down there one more time), but it was a fruitful one for us with Westgate Thai. We both wish Gary and Mali the very best, and encourage anyone who can to make that trek down to their back-of-the-market eatery to pay them one more visit for delicious Thai eats.

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