1155 Old Henderson Rd.
Columbus, OH 43220
Probably the closest thing that Columbus has to a Chinatown would be the little strip mall in its northern suburbs where a number of Asian businesses have congregated. Where a few years ago things like an Asian grocery, bubble tea shop, hot pot stand and specialized bakery might only appeal to transplants, today these enjoy wider public acceptance. In response, more modern and Westernized spots have appeared in the mall. Certainly one of the memorable options, Tensuke Express focuses on Japanese dishes specifically, the curries, noodle bowls and appetizers, some of which are very hard to sample in other restaurants around town. The verdict? Definitely worth a visit.
The restaurant has a variety of Japanese dishes, some of which are much more familiar to local diners, while others are probably going to be new to the Midwestern palette. Some of the things I tried:
- Tonkotsu ramen: Most of the ramen bowls feature a distinct, sweet and savory vegetable broth base with strong noodles inside. This choice featured a hard-boiled egg, wood ear, onions and some appetizers of your choice. Ramen is available in a lot of places around town and in this case it’s a substantial
- Gyoza: Pork rolls are by now very familiar, but these potstickers have the added bonus of being fried crispy. That adds a little bit of an extra snap on the outside while leaving plenty of flavor and texture when you bite into them.
- Beef Curry Rice: This curry has a wonderful, slightly musty flavor that heightens the beef a bit with the thick and creamy sauce that you then mop up with the rice. Probably one of the heavier items on the menu, to be sure, but not to be overlooked.
- Okonomi Yaki: This is a unique pancake-like appetizer that features octopus meat on the inside. While it’s a heavier app, definitely meant to be shared by a few people, the mix of sauces on top sweeten it a bit and the mix of textures make it an interesting new thing to introduce to town.
The restaurant doesn’t look like much from the outside but appearances are deceiving — in fact, it’s sleek, cool and modern on the inside. More a fast casual outfit than anything else, you come up to the counter and order your food, and return when your oder is called. The bright yellow interior is happy, kind of over-the-top and reminds me of restaurants in bright cities like Seoul in Korea. Prices are pretty normal, and the real wonderful thing here is that it’s got a lot of unique foods that are otherwise hard to try in Columbus.
But most important of all, the food is just great.
- The curry dishes are actually probably the best, and they make for a good lunch.
- Ramen dishes are pretty good, too.
- Food can also go for takeout.