Kaya Grill & Sushi

It’s pretty hard to find a place in the midwestern United States that does Korean barbecue — the distinctive style of cooking raw meats on a hot element is something that is easy to embrace…once you’re already familiar with the process. So around here, it doesn’t have much of a following. But if you want an introduction on the idea, a good place to go would be Kaya Grill & Sushi, a Columbus spot that specializes in Korean and Japanese cooking. But the best thing to try in the restaurant has to be this unique way of eating, both for its rarity in this area and for the potential to really walk away satisfied you’ve had a great meal.

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Song’s Sushi

While it’s only been open a little over a year, Song’s Sushi along Airway Road east of Dayton has already drawn considerable praise as an under-appreciated new gem in the city. With a captive audience in nearby Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, the dive serves up Korean and Japanese food — and fast, to keep up with those tight lunch break routines. The rapid-fire service might lead you to think this is a no-frills place, but in reality, it’s great food served from a tight ship. This kind of efficiency is sure to impress by itself, but the food backs it up.

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Dancing Roll

A sit-down sushi restaurant that was founded in West Chester, Dancing Roll recently added a second location in Hyde Park on Cincinnati’s East Side, with a menu that has broadened with the interest in Japanese and Korean food that has increased in the Midwest recently. This spot is best known and liked for its half-price sushi nights and its whole plates of great Korean specialties, which are otherwise not easy to find in a lot of other places in Cincinnati. This spot is one to remember.

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Asiana Korean Restaurant

The growth of West Chester has meant many kinds of new restaurants have followed as population and offered an increasingly diverse array of great foods. It’s no short task to try and keep track of them all. A stalwart hole-in-the-wall in the sea of ever changing trendy names, Asiana Korean Restaurant is a relatively low key place, catering to the Asian American population of southwest Ohio with a simple joy: Korean food. The restaurant offers dishes few other places which are not so niche would bother to try, but the end result is something altogether amazing. A trip to Korea will leave you hungry for the foods that typify the land. This spot brings them to Ohio and in a good way.

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Yung’s Cafe

A tiny little dive along the main stretch into downtown Fairborn, Ohio, Yung’s Cafe is one of the only restaurants in Dayton dedicated entirely to serving up Korean food. Run by a small transplant family and really popular with the Southeast Asian community that has found its way to Dayton, this cafe has foods that you won’t easily find in many other places. And for that, it’s a wonderful place. Well worth a visit if you’re new to the cuisine or want something that reminds you a bit of Seoul.

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Suzie Wong’s on Madison

With a colorful concept and an Asian Fusion menu that spans the Far East, Suzie Wong’s is a cool upscale addition to the Madison area of Walnut Hills in east Cincinnati. It’s most busy in the lunch hour, offering Korean bibimbap, Vietnamese pho, Chinese lo mein and everything in between. Keeping those prices at a reasonable place, Suzie Wong’s is a pretty easy place to like, with everything it offers having sort of a comfortable goodness to it.

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Critic’s Special: Bibibop

Bibibop has rocketed out of the central suburbs into an all-Ohio chain of eight restaurants, and now both Cincinnati and Columbus eaters can enjoy the fast casual Korean food concept. One spot opened yesterday off Sawmill Road in Northwest Columbus at virtually the same time as another opened in Liberty Center near Cincinnati. So what does this chain have to offer? Owner Joe Holbrook invited Another Food Critic out to give it a try. The result was fantastic.

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Opening week special: Ginger & Spice Asian Bistro

Just opened on Brown Street, Ginger and Spice Asian Bistro is Dayton’s latest take on noodles. It’s the latest in a recent trend of pan-Asian noodle houses opening around college campuses in this part of the country, driven in part by convenience and in part by the higher popularity of fast-casual Asian dishes that are packed for convenience. Ginger serves up styles including Korean jam pong, Chinese lo mein, pad Thai and Vietnamese pho. Of course there may be some things here the average Midwesterner might not be accustomed to, but this spot has a lot to offer.

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Ginger Asian Kitchen

There’s a lot of traditional Chinese food to try in Athens, but it’s pretty hard to come by something quite like Ginger Asian Cuisine. This long-awaited restaurant was announced in 2012, but it took the better part of a year before it came to fruition. The spot serves Japanese sushi, Chinese lo mein noodles and rice bowls, and Korean kimchi. Also, it serves frozen yogurt in its downstairs area, “Yogurt Alley.” Ginger is a great addition to the vibrant Court Street dining scene for its convenience.

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Akashi Sushi Bar

sushi bar serving north Dayton, Akashi Sushi Bar along Harshman Rd. serves lunch and nicer cuisine to the population of nearby Wright-Patterson Air Force Base as well as the Huber Heights community nearby. The menu is much more distinctly ethnic than many of the other sushi bars in town, with much of the food it offers being fish and vegetable or noodle dishes, like bulgogi and bokkeum. The kinds of things you won’t try anywhere else in town. Myself, I like the place most for its sushi, which is the most popular option. There’s a definite cultural barrier with the staff, and in some ways I fear that barrier extends to the cuisine, too. But new cuisine can sometimes be hard to break in.

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