Lu Sha’s hometown of Ningxia inspired the menu at his new venue, Xi Xia Western Chinese Cuisine at 1140 Kenny Centre Mall in Columbus, just north of the Upper Arlington city limits.
Sha was not content with opening yet another American-Chinese restaurant.
“Young Chinese people, we don’t like that,” he said. “It’s not what we eat.”
The fairly limited menu concentrates on homemade broth and noodles, he said.
Among the more popular choices is the signature lamb noodle soup, using sliced lamb, daikon, rehydrated mushrooms, green onion, hard-boiled egg, green onions and cilantro.
Another is the stirred noodles, with homemade oyster sauce, sliced beef, spinach, bok choy, bean sprouts, green onions and cilantro.
Sha created an entire special menu of duck and spicy chicken feet. He gave it a permanent seat at the menu table when he saw the reaction to the spicy duck neck, wings, tongue and head.
It will remain “as long as there are young Chinese people in Columbus,” he said.
The modest, 40-seat interior of the restaurant is decorated with brick facades, a mural and a few appointed pictures. There is no alcohol served, but Sha is considering applying for a license to sell beer.
Sha said that two years ago he traveled to Ningxia, meaning “old country” in his dialect, to take cooking classes and learn his native cuisine. He also has brought in professional help in the kitchen.
Codie Cui, Sha’s girlfriend and a recent graduate of Ohio State University, said the attention to homemade food set Xi Xia apart.
“It’s really different than American Chinese,” she said. “You can tell.”
Xi Xia is open from 11:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. six days a week. It is closed Tuesdays.
For more information, call 614-670-7736.