Hunan Lion is always included as part of the upper echelon of restaurants around Columbus (see: Dispatch). The combination of tasteful decor with tasty Chinese and Thai dishes garners a lot of praise for this establishment. All the acclaim is deserved based upon my experience.
The restaurant is stylishly appointed. The service is courteous. Hunan Lion offers both dine-in and take-out options. The restaurant belies its strip mall exterior with detailed wood accents, dark colors, white table cloth and Asian light fixtures alongside a photogenic fish tank.
The server informed me that all menu items that did not list meat as an ingredient in the description were in fact vegetarian. There are many vegetarian appetizers in addition to the Thai and Chinese main courses on the menu.
The sesame noodles were delicious. Hunan Lion prepares the peanut dish hot with thick noodles, cucumbers and scallions. It is rich, mildly seasoned and deeply satisfying.
My main course was the Siam tofu. It was pan fried cubes of tofu in a brown Thai chili sauce with asparagus, red peppers, green beans, onions and baby corn. The tofu was crispy and not at all greasy. The sauce is a flavorful of green herbs, hot peppers and savory balance. The vegetables were a great blend. They demonstrated a focus on flavor more than a blind adherence to tradition a la the neighborhood take-out establishment.
Hunan Lion is more expensive than the typical neighborhood Chinese joint based upon the level of service, the decor and the quality of food. It is worth the price of admission.