Category Archives: Japanese


ramen in columbus

Cuisine: Ramen/Japanese
1506 Bethel Road (Bethel Center)
Hours: Tues-Thurs 11am-10pm, Fri & Sat 11am-10.30pm, Sun 11am-9pm

Ramen and fried chicken. The sudden eruption of restaurants specializing in one or the other amounts to a culinary onslaught. And so, it was inevitable – Meshikou debuts as a place that does both.

The karaage is good – crispy, with a thin, delicate crust, and exceptionally tender flesh – and more or less what you might expect from a Japanese take on fried chicken. Seasoning is mercifully restrained, the crust and flesh are as far from greasy as could be, and a basket is perfect for two to share. A sweet and spicy dipping sauce accompanies.

japanese fried chicken

As for the ramen – while strict purists may reasonably object to various elements of it, our slurping table of 5 found little to complain about and much to enjoy. The ‘shoyu tonkotsu ramen’, as the name suggests, is a mashup of two traditional styles, probably tasted as strongly of chicken stock as the pork broth that ‘tonkotsu’ promises, but nonetheless delivered on ramen’s (often lacking) key components of luxurious richness and deep broth flavor. The increasingly de-rigeur Sun Noodle ramen noodles proved that there’s good reason for their ubiquity and they were prepared to a pleasing toothsomeness. The chashu pork was solid, and the marinated soft boiled egg was absolutely perfect in flavor and texture.

ramen in columbus

In short, it was a good bowl. It was also a relatively small bowl. When it came, I eyed it with skepticism. When I was finished, I realized that the size was ideal. Did we mention it was rich?

We also tried the spicy miso version, and while it was enjoyed, the shoyu tonkotsu won us over.

meshiko restaurant columbus

Perhaps the least exciting element of the meal was the pork buns, which seemed composed of reasonably well prepared ingredients, but was marred by an excessively sweet sauce.


There’s much left to try, including vegetable and pure chicken stock ramen options, as well as broth-less noodle dishes.

meshiko restaurant

Service was pleasant and attentive, and the space was a pleasant distillation of the interiors of the coastal ramen meccas.


Menya Noodle House

menya noodle house

Menya Noodle House
3503 Market Street
Powell, 43065
11am-9pm Saturday & Sunday

Early in 2013 we read that Luce had a new Japanese owner and was being rebranded as Luce Nuovo. More recently, they’ve cordoned off a section of their restaurant (including a separate entrance) to open Menya Noodle House, a weekend-only ramen shop that debuted this weekend.

ramen in powell ohio

Menya offers three ramen broths – shoyu, miso and tonkotsu. The miso had already sold out, so shoyu and tonkotsu it was for our group of 3. We unanimously prefered the tonkotsu (pork bone broth, pictured below). Nice and rich and meaty, we thought it to likely be the best tonkotsu broth in the city. The shoyu, by contrast, struck us as fairly average.

ramen in columbus ohio

The pork belly topping was sliced into long bacon-like strips. It was tender but otherwise indistinct, and a more traditional chashu would have been preferable. You can order extra seaweed, egg or pork belly toppings, though they were out of eggs on this visit. Both the ramens that we sampled were served with thin ramen noodles.

ramen in ohio

There is a small selection of appetizers, including cold tofu with ginger and bonito (best eaten with the provided soy sauce) , edamame, and several rice dishes.

japanese food in powell IMG_3289

You can also order from Luce’s Italian offerings, printed on the back of the Japanese menu.

For more on ramen in Columbus check out our article for Columbus Crave.

Koyama Shoten

japanese markets columbus ohio

Cuisine: Japanese
5857 Sawmill Road
11am-8pm Tuesday-Sunday. Closed Mondays

Click here to map it!

Koyama Shoten is a small Japanese market that has been open since 1986. While not as large or busy as Tensuke, you can nonetheless find some items at Koyama that aren’t carried at Tensuke. As such, it’s definitely a popular stop for Columbus’ Japanese community.

japanese markets ohio

One of the main attractions at Koyama is their bento boxes (available both for lunch and dinner) and ready made bentos are found on a small table at the back of the store, available from 12.30pm-8pm. If you don’t see any out there ask one of the staff. If you want a specific one and are short on time or have a large order it is advisable to call ahead.

bento boxes take out

Here’s the menu:
Sake (Grilled salmon) (pictured bottom right)
Unagi (BBQ eel) (pictured top left)
Karaage (Fried chicken)
Tonkatsu (Pork cutlet)
Hirekatsu (Pork fillet cutlet)
Yakiniku (Grilled beef)
Buta Shouga Yaki (Ginger pork) (pictured top right)
Korokke (Croquette)
Hambagu (Hamburger patty served with demi-glace)

Gyu-don (bowl with thinly sliced beef) (pictured bottom left)
Katsu-don (Pork cutlet with egg over rice bowl)
Oyako-don (Chicken with egg over rice bowl)

At Koyama, everything with the “don” suffix are served in bowls with a side of  Japanese pickles. All others are in the rectangular bento box with sides of pickles, vegetables and fruits. Each one comes with a small bowl of miso soup. These bento boxes are not as varied as most restaurant bento boxes often are – they consist of rice and protein with the aforementioned garnishes, but they are an exceptional value for lunch with most in the $5-6 range. It’s a simple and healthy take out lunch. We recommend the gyu-don bowl, the unagi and the ginger pork.

There is nowhere to eat at Koyama. It is strictly take out, but there is a nice little park a few blocks away.

Yoshi’s Japanese Restaurant

Yoshi's Exterior

Cuisine: Japanese

5776 Frantz Rd., Dublin OH 43016

Click here to map it!

Yoshi’s is reputed to be a popular restaurant destination for the Japanese folks living in town, and we expected to find enjoyable food. Spoiler alert – all true.

What we didn’t expect, though, was to be so thoroughly entertained by the proceedings.

A bit of background – we’re lucky to be able to rely on a friend fluent in all things Japanese (thanks, KC) for help with evaluating what dishes we should try. As such, we walked into Yoshi’s with a good deal of knowledge of the more unusual options on their menu.

So, long story short, we ‘order like the Japanese’. Or so said the perplexed hostess, prior to asking if we’d lived in Japan.

Before that, our waitress did a double take on a few of our requested dishes, politely explained what they were, and went to some effort to verify that we actually wanted them.

While we ate, we occasionally felt 3 or 4 pairs of eyes on us, as if to suggest, ‘they ordered it, but will they really eat it?’

If this sounds intimidating, it shouldn’t. All was smiles, conducted with a good natured curiosity and genuine concern for our experience. It culminated with Yoshi himself, on the other side of the sushi bar, peppering us with questions, offering up specials and tips on ‘off the menu’ items, and showing off some of his more exotic sushi preparations.

Maybe we have an odd sense of fun, but fun it was. We left with big stupid smiles on our faces, smiles smudged with things like this:

Yoshi's onsen tamago

That, in the image above, is onsen tamago. Reminiscent of an oyster shooter, this very soft boiled egg is served chilled and topped with a little seaweed and a light dressing. We were advised to slurp it down in one go, and very much enjoyed the how the soft egg white yielded to reveal the wonderfully custardy yolk.

Yoshi's tako wasabi

The tako wasabi was one of the plates that, upon ordering, raised eyebrows among the staff. It’s a simple dish – raw octopus marinated in wasabi and salt. It was, at best, moderately chewy, and tasted mildly of the ocean. Even the kick of the wasabi was surprisingly mild. It all came together beautifully, and we loved it.

Yoshi's moro q

We also loved the moro q – strips of cucumber served with a nutty and deeply savory miso relish. It’s a great example of how two simple ingredients can sing when they’re so perfectly matched.

Yoshi's shishito shrimp tempura

Then, we took Yoshi up on his offer to taste the daily special, shishito peppers filled with a shrimp pate and tempura fried. Think green pepper but subtler, shrimp flavor but denser in texture, and a pleasant contrast between crunchy and chewy.

Yoshi's okonomiyaki

Finally, we were let in on a secret – Yoshi’s often prepares a few servings worth of okonomiyaki. It’s not on the menu, and not always available, but it is emphatically worth asking about. Okonomiyaki is a savory pancake filled with shredded cabbage and (in this case) small bits of octopus, and topped with an okonomiyaki sauce, a mild Japanese mayo, and bonito flakes. Yoshi’s version was easily the best we’ve ever tried.

Yoshi’s also offers a wide variety of noodles, including soba, udon, and ramen.

Belle’s Bread

Japanese bakery columbus

Cuisine – Japanese

1168 Kenny Centre Mall  Columbus, OH 43220

Click here to map it!

It’s no secret that, in the US, we tend to twist the cuisines of other cultures around to suit our tastes, often to such a degree that that they end up bearing a questionable resemblance to their origins. On occasion, I’ve wondered what a Japanese person must think when encountering cream cheese in a sushi roll, or a Chinese person might think of General Tso’s chicken.

If I had to guess, it’s probably something similar to how I felt while perusing the wares at Belle’s Bread, a pastry shop and cafe geared towards the local Japanese population. From cod roe spaghetti to curry donuts to mac & cheese ‘gratin’ spiked with shrimp and served in a bread bowl, Belle’s is a quick trip to a European/American culinary uncanny valley.

Belle’s scrupulously tidy and immaculately clean interior suggests a vague French theme as filtered through a Panera lens. All staff are spiffily dressed in pressed white shirts and – I kid you not – berets, and are impeccably polite. Baked goods are wrapped individually and proudly displayed, while jewel-like single-serving desserts glisten and tempt from behind the glass of a long row of refrigerated cases.

japanese pastries columbus

The delightfully bizarre selection in the bakery section overwhelms with options, the first of which is – sweet or savory? As in, a pistachio tart, or the one with the hot dog in it that looks like it has a ketchup drizzle? Chocolate eclair, or a donut filled with chicken curry (picture below)?

japanese curry donut

Almost regardless of your pick, you’ll encounter an extremely light and fluffy white bread-like pastry base that has very little flavor of its own. We’re told this is a Japanese preference, and as such it leans heavily on the fillings, toppings, and the like to carry the experience. This can be pleasant on its own merits, but one can’t help but imagine the reaction of a Parisian to the sacrilege of patisserie-perfect appearing goods sporting the base texture and flavor of Wonderbread. One notable exception was the danishes, in particular the pear-custard version – the pastry was delicious and the custard sublime.

best danish pastries columbus

Moving on to the savory dishes, the curiosities fail to abate. The Neapolitan spaghetti was a reasonably enjoyable bowl of noodles and red sauce, though the hotdog slivers within added little beyond question marks. The smoked salmon sandwich was absolutely gorgeous in a scaled up British tea snack sort of way and featured a clever use of avocado, but the salmon flavor was strangely muted. The aforementioned gratin was essentially mac & cheese, light on the cheese though rich and creamy in the extreme and dotted with bits of shrimp. It’s offered in a bread bowl, just in case you need the extra carbs.

japanese cafe columbus

Perhaps most intriguing was the Japanese spin on beef bourguignon called hayashi rice – tender beef, mushrooms, and onions smothered in a rich wine sauce served alongside rice. Rich, savory, and emphatically comfort-foody, this dish – essentially a stew – speaks directly to the Midwestern soul.

japanese food columbus

The single-serving desserts struck sweet chords left and right among our table of tasters, with the chocolate mousse cake garnering unanimous praise and the impossibly light and powerfully mango-ey mango mousse finding fans among the mango lovers. The fig tart was also well received.

japanese desserts columbus

And then there’s the soft-serve green tea-flavored ice cream, and the self-serve yakisoba noodle sandwiches, and… well, I could go on, but won’t. If you have an open mind to novel twists on familiar favorites, check Belle’s out.