1506 Bethel Rd.
Columbus, OH 43220
Taking advantage of a large Japanese population in Columbus, Meshikou is a little dive that focuses on big bowls of ramen noodles. It’s not a food that has classically enjoyed a lot of understanding in the Midwest, but this is changing, especially as some better restaurant concepts come to, but the local flavors always remain the best. This little ramen shop in a strip mall along Bethel Road gets called the ‘best ramen in Columbus’ pretty routinely.
The menu here is all about the ramen bowls, though there are some other great foods to try too. Some of the things I liked:
- Shoyu Chintan Ramen: One of the classic versions of the dish, with a rich and velvety broth. The rich flavor says it all! Topped with mushrooms, scallions, eggs and pork belly.
- Spicy Miso Ramen: The salty miso base is enhanced with mushrooms, corn, scallions, and that sliced pork belly that’s just perfect. An ever-so-slight heat to it.
- Fireball Tonkotsu: The second-spiciest option on the ramen menu, this one is my personal favorite. The heat is gradual and builds as you enjoy the mixture of straight noodles, mushrooms, fish cake, eggs and scallions. So by the bottom of the bowl you’re thoroughly satisfied with a full belly and a nice, low-level warm heat.
- Fireball Miso Ramen: The hottest option for the ramen, this one features a much spicier garlic paste that is pretty forward and direct – you’ll want this one if you like a bit of heat.
- Meshikou Black: Paitan broth, shio tare, green scallion, kikurage mushroom, pork belly and soft-boiled egg. The black noodles add a little color but the rich silky broth adds so much.
- Spicy Mala Ramen: house sichuan tare, green scallion, kikurage mushroom, marinated soft broiled egg, braised pork belly. The extra on this one is the mala oil, sichuan inspired, which has a numbing quality.
- Takoyaki: An appetizer that’s otherwise hard to find in the Midwest. These fried dough balls contain pieces of octopus. It’s a good snack for two people to share.
- Edamame: Always good and fresh, served dunked in sea salt for good measure.
The ingredients are what make all the difference here; ramen is good everywhere, but to really master it takes some real, high-quality focus. The broth is the staple of it all, and it’s smooth, silky and rich. The noodles are cooked just a tad before al dente, so they have a very light chewiness that makes them perfect. Every few minutes the whiff of roasting meat will waft your way too, as pieces of pork belly are seared to order in the kitchen. Those attentive little things are what bring the flavor in each bowl over the top.
Meshikou is a real hidden gem, always delicious, and very intentional about the way it builds its food. Just so worthwhile. This is a must-stop in Columbus if you like ramen. Just make sure you know when to get in the door, because you’ll find a line.
- It’s a relatively small shop, so I would say come early and probably with a small group.
- There’s a spectrum of spicy ramen dishes, but each one is purpose-built, and I recommend giving them a try if you like the heat, none is overwhelming but all is well-integrated.
- Apps are best when shared between two people.