And the good restaurants do indeed get better. Kihachi, a 19-year-old eatery tucked into a strip mall in Columbus' Northwest neighborhood, is so highly regarded that Anthony Bourdain, accompanied by food writer and author Michael Ruhlman no less, visited the restaurant for his "No Reservations" television show. The number of Japanese restaurants in and around Columbus ranges from 19 to at least 40, depending on who's counting, and there are dozens more if you tally restaurants under a generic "Asian" theme. Not all of these reach the high level set by Kihachi, cautions Bethia Woolf, owner of Columbus Food Adventures, a food tour company, and an influential Columbus food blogger with four sites to her credit (alteatscolumbus.com; tacotruckscolumbus.com; streeteatscolumbus.com; columbusfoodadventures.com/blog). "But some of the others are definitely good," Woolf said. "As in any city where there's a sizable Japanese population, the food follows fairly fast. Japanese people, generally, are looking for Japanese food." Columbus offers an opportunity to be adventurous, to move away from the usual spicy tuna rolls, battered shrimp and sukiyaki. Consider a recent dinner enjoyed by Woolf, which included both deep-fried Atlantic pike skeleton and braised sea bream cheek during a meal at Kihachi. Here: Japanese dough balls spiked with octopus and sweet corn served in the traditional bamboo boat at Freshstreet Takoyaki House, a take-out stand in Columbus, Ohio. The balls are topped with Japanese mayonnaise, dried seaweed and bonito flakes.
Bill Daley, Chicago Tribune