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Good Food: Golden Chopsticks, A Columbus Institution

When I began my series of interviews highlighting some of the under-sung heroes of the Columbus culinary scene, I knew right off the bat that I wanted to feature Golden Chopsticks. It’s no secret that I’m a fan of this Korean restaurant. It’s the kind of place I always suggest to friends who are visiting from out of town because I know the flavors are sure to impress and there will be something for everyone to enjoy. 

During the fall and winter I frequent the little restaurant for their out of this world soups, which you may have noticed in our Guide to Soup Season since I included several of their most popular bowls. My favorite is the Duk Mandu Guk, a soup consisting of pork and veggie dumplings, rice cake, and veggies simmered in beef broth. If I’m in the mood for something spicy I like to order the Yukgaejang which is a spicy vegetable soup with egg, beef, green onion, mushrooms, and clear noodles. During the spring and summer I tend to steer away from soups and back towards Bulgogi, Kim Bap, and So Kalbi.

Recently Qwan Lee took over the business so that his parents, Roy and Kwisu Lee could begin their retirement. We talked with Qwan about his path to becoming the owner of Golden Chopsticks.

Tell us a little about yourself and your family! Could you include some details about your parents opening the restaurant and retirement?

My parents are originally from South Korea. My father and his family moved to San Francisco in 1973. He joined the US army in 1975. He was stationed at Ft. Benning, now Ft. Moore, in 1978 where he met and married my mother.

My parents took over Golden Chopsticks from the previous owners in the early 90’s and worked together till my mother passed away from a tough battle with cancer in 2001. My father eventually remarried and kept the restaurant going with my stepmom. I started working with them in 2010.

Did you always want to take over the restaurant?

I never had any intention of taking over the restaurant but after working here for so long and meeting so many great people I changed my mind. I started to picture myself taking it over when my parents retired.

The plan for their retirement was set in stone when a tragic accident occurred in 2022 that almost completely derailed everything. I was a pedestrian on the highway and was struck by a vehicle. I almost lost my life. I had so many injuries I told my father to go ahead and sell the restaurant because I didn’t think I would be physically able to run it. After a lot of physical therapy I healed better than expected so I told my father that I could do it. My parents retired in 2023 and moved back to Korea.

What is your favorite item on the menu? What’s the most popular? 

My favorite dish on our menu is the So Kalbi (beef short ribs) and the most popular dish is Bulgogi. 

What are your hopes for the future of Golden Chopsticks?

My hopes for the future of GC is to keep it going as long as I can.

What are some of the biggest challenges you've faced since you’ve taken over and how have you overcome them? 

Good help is so hard to find these days but I’m finally blessed with an amazing team that strives to do their best every day.

If you go:

3846 St. Mary’s Road

Open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday, closed Sunday. 



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