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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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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Osaka Sushi & Hibachi Bar

While there are a few Asian-themed buffets around Dayton, what Osaka Japanese Steakhouse offers the region is a very unique experience. Opened in what has for several years been a series of family dining restaurants, this one is a higher-priced buffet of Far Eastern cuisines you won’t find in many other places around town, and certainly not all under one roof. From Peking duck to octopus, frog legs and, yes, a sushi conveyor belt, this spot is a place to go when you’re feeling like a very adventurous experience.

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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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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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B Spot Burgers

Chef Michael Symon has been credited with leading the revival of Cleveland’s food scene, and his much loved concepts have made waves all over the country. As his concepts continue to capture national fame, they’ve been creeping into other cities, among them the very popular B Spot Burgers. This restaurant chain, now with locations in Cleveland and Detroit, brings Chef Symon’s mastery to a very American dish: the burger. Something as common (and inexpensive) as a burger…from a world class chef. Yes, this is absolutely worth a visit.

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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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Meadowlark

A highly experimental concept that brings an ever-changing face to contemporary cuisine, Meadowlark is the kind of place you go if you’re looking for a culinary adventure. This American cuisine restaurant offers up a ton of vegetarian dishes, sandwiches, soups, and dishes with inspiration all over the globe. It’s hard to find a restaurant that truly goes out on a limb to really try and make something new. In Dayton, it can seem almost impossible. But step into this little restaurant nestled behind a strip mall in south Dayton, and you won’t regret a thing you order.

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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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