1173 Old Henderson Rd.
Columbus, OH 43220
Columbus’ closest thing to a little Japan is definitely X, a strip mall in the suburbs where a cluster of little Japanese restaurants, shops and tea shops are clustered. The fine dining option of choice among these is definitely Akai Hana, a decidedly dinner destination where Japanese specialties, including some things unusual in American restaurants, can be found. Want to get a good, authentic taste of the food you might try on the streets of Tokyo? This would be a good place in Ohio to give it a try, for the good food and formal, cozy setting that is perfect for a date, gathering of friends, or something similar.
The menu is all good. I loved the specialties.
- Buckeye Roll: Sweet potato tempura, cream cheese and eel with a heavy hoisin sauce. Eel is good when it has a sweet thing to counter balance, which is pulled off pretty well here.
- Rainbow Roll: Spicy tuna inside the roll, which is wrapped with more tuna, salmon, yellowtail, whitefish and avocado. This classic roll packs a different flavor in every piece!
- Dragonfly Roll: This fried roll is stuffed with salmon, crab sticks, eel, cream cheese and avocado, dipped in Tempura batter.
- Grilled squid: The head of a squid grilled and sliced and served pretty simply. This meat is often battered or dunked in salty sauces and ruined. Nice to see a place that treats it well and lets it speak for itself.
- Agedashi tofu: A stiff tofu cubed into big blocks, lightly breaded and served with a sweet sauce. Tofu is delicate, and it definitely sops up all the flavor around it. This dish is made with a deft hand and definitely keeps it even and not overly sweet or salty.
- Ramen: This stuff is all the rage these days in the U.S., so how do you make it better? It’s all in the broth. A sweet bit of miso leads to a satisfying umami, and then it’s filled with corn, veggies and thin-sliced meat. I’d say to share it, but these noodles are too delicious to ignore.
The restaurant is regularly pretty full, which means reservations are highly recommended, especially on a peak night. But when you get in, you tend to find the place with plenty of reasons to stay. I recommend it as a small group or date spot because it’s pretty easy to grab a few courses, a few rolls of sushi and have a longer and more romantic kind of night.
With a huge influx of new food coming to town, Columbus benefits from a lot of great chances to try good sushi. This one is a mainstay for a good reason, and really worth a visit.
- This is the ideal place to get a few rolls of sushi and split them with a date or a few friends.
- Don’t skip out on other things like ramen or seafood though, those are just as great.
- Reservations strongly recommended.