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“Most exciting meal I've ever eaten.”

Kihachi Japanese Restaurant
Ranked #968 of 2,300 Restaurants in Columbus
Price range: $31 - $40
Cuisines: Japanese
Dining options: Reservations
Restaurant details
Dining options: Reservations
Reviewed April 24, 2011

We made reservations for two at Kihachi about two weeks in advance. The gentleman that took the reservation was very pleasant and quickly pointed out that Kihachi is neither a sushi bar nor steakhouse. I said that we expected neither and he was glad we knew what to expect from the experience. He offered a table or counter seats. I initially chose a table, but after reading many other reviews, decided to switch to the counter seats as my husband and I wanted to watch the cooks work their magic. This decision to switch required a second call, at which point I spoke to a thickly accented Japanese woman. She was difficult to understand, but was extremely pleasant and patient with my numerous requests for her to repeat herself. She cheerfully made the changes to the reservation. We arrived for our reservation and were promptly and pleasantly greeted by several people, both servers and kitchen staff, and we were escorted to our seats. Our server greeted us once we were seated comfortably, gave us hot towels and took our sake order. He brought those to us within minutes. Then, he went over the specials which are written in Japanese. He was patient with his delivery, taking time to answer all of our questions and make suggestions. We decided that we would eat small plates from the specials menu, as there were many delicious choices and this way we could sample more flavors. We didn't even bother to look at the dinner menu. For our first round of small plates, we selected a dish with a panko fried sandwich of lotus root, whitefish and shrimp pate served with peppers. Next was fried, whole Hawaiian blue prawn--which is eaten whole. Then, pork cheek. My husband and I were absolutely blown away by these items--delicious. For round 2, we had braised duck with tamari, skip jack--which is a mackerel-like fish topped with greens and fried elephant garlic, then we had some vegetable tempura. Again, all items were delicious and beautifully presented. Our final round was a dish of home made strawberry ice cream, suggested by the Chef. It was very fresh tasting and refreshing. Our service was impeccable from start to finish. The dishes we ordered came to us within 15 minutes of ordering. They were handed to us by the Chef, or other cooks that were working on the line, as they were completed, which gave us time to enjoy each one before moving on to the next--which was nice. The dishes were so delicious, beautiful and different that each one deserved our undivided attention--which we were happy to give. Also, as we were handed the dishes, the staff described how each item should be eaten. Such as, the prawn can be eaten from "head to tail", the skip jack with greens and garlic should be enjoyed in "one bite". This was helpful, as these items were all completely new to us. Our server was quick to clear our plates, offer drinks and bring us a menu when we wanted to order more. We thoroughly enjoyed our experience. The atmosphere was elegant and simple. The staff is warm, friendly, professional and very attentive. Words can barely express the quality of the food we ate. It is clear that great attention is given to the freshness of the menu items as seafood this fresh is usually only found in coastal regions. It was a truly memorable meal. It should be noted that in order to fully enjoy one's experience at Kihachi, 1.5 to 2 hours should be allowed. We ordered a little at a time and ate one dish at a time--the server never missed a beat.

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3  Thank snailruby
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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21 - 25 of 26 reviews

Reviewed July 23, 2010

Usually one of the highest compliments that can be paid to a Japanese restaurant in the US is that it is "authentic" ... a pearl hidden amongst the Americanized hibachi, sushi, and "fusion" squalor that is all too common to the U.S. food scene. Kihachi does one better. Not only is it authentic, it's simply outstanding food sure to delight all of the senses. It feels like it should be in New York or LA, not hiding out in a little strip mall in Columbus, Ohio.

Kihachi seems to have a bit of a reputation for poor service, but in the times I've been there the service has been very good and the waitstaff attentive, even explaining the many daily specials (written in hand, in Japanese) in English to the non-Japanese speakers in our group. Although they have your typical Japanese main dishes (chicken teriyaki, tonkatsu, shogayaki, etc.) I highly recommend eating "tapas style" and ordering a bunch of smaller dishes to share so that you get to taste the widest variety of foods and the daily/weekly specials. For what you get, the prices aren't unreasonable either.

Columbus is fortunate to have a number of high quality Japanese restaurants, but I have yet to find one that is better than Kihachi. Anthony Bourdain liked it enough to feature it on his No Reservations TV show ... I'll bet that you'll fall in love with it too!

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2  Thank Charles S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 1, 2009

The first thing to understand about Kihachi is that unless you are a business man from Japan the pace of a meal at Kihachi is likely not going to be what you expect and this is not a bad thing. Japanese businessmen come to Kihachi for dinners that are quite long in duration and are focused as much on the team/consensus building of the individuals as it is about the enjoying the excellent food. When I eat at Kihachi it takes a good deal longer to complete the dining experience than would be normal in a restaurant designed to cater to western tastes and while I enjoy the relaxed pace and consider myself to be doing well at slowing down to smell the roses as it were but still recognize that on most nights there was a party of Japanese business men already seated and eating when I arrived, and that they are more often than not still there, seated, and eating when I leave. If your measure of a meal is how quickly you receive it after ordering, then Kihachi may not be the best match for you. If you are willing to consider a meal as an experience and not a race, and willing to try some new things as part of that experience, then you will come to realize, as did I, that the longer you are there the better.

When you come you may want to make reservations. If it is busy they may ask you to come another night. Sit at the counter so you can watch the chefs cook and ask questions. Be polite and inquisitive with the servers and you will be rewarded with helpful translations of the all Japanese portion sof the menu as well as good service. there is a dinner menu, an appetizer menu, and a small list of specials on the appetizer menu that is hand written. You would be well advised to order any, or all, of the handwritten specials. They are seasonal and based on what is available on the market in the highest quality. You may not have heard of some of the specials, but all that I can tell you is after six years of ordering these items and not knowing what half of them were the first time I tried them I have yet to be disappointed. Some sushi and sashimi is available, so feel free to ask what is fresh that the chef recommends. Order a variety of tempura dishes, grilled dishes, braised dishes, soba, and soups. Take a minute out of your busy life and enjoy the simple clean lines of the decor. Chat with the chefs and get to know them. Once you have agreed with yourself to invest the time necessary to have great experience, be prepared to pay for it. Some items on the menu may seem expensive based on what you normally see. It is not cheap to fly in fresh items from Japan, and some items you may only ever see at Kihachi as long as you live in Ohio, so don't be afraid. I do cringe a bit at a few prices each time I order because I wish I lived in a world where the best food was dirt cheap, but I have never walked away after paying the bill wishing for anything other than an opportunity to return in the near future.

If you dine with less fearless eaters, the dinner menu has many more recognizable dishes that are equally as good as the specials and there is something to please everyone somewhere on the menu. A fondly remembered meal for me last fall consisted of a large beer, followed by some edamame. Then some shrimp and shitake mushroom tempura followed by eel in vinegar sauce. An order of tekka maki, some grilled matsutake mushrooms, and home made vanilla ice cream. Every dish a homerun. Arrive with patience and enjoy a different take on dinner.

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2  Thank atsugiboy
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 17, 2009

Fresh. Light. Your tastebuds will dance in your mouth. The Fluke is better than anything you will ever eat

Thank slom
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 25, 2007

Special Sushi entres were excellent. Otherwise the experience was very slow and one meal was served as others were finishing their meals. Three hours and 15 minute experience. First course delayed almost an hour. Main courses were average. Also arithmetic mistakes on 3 of 4 checks. I would not go back. Disappointed because I have eaten there before with good results and had recommended this restaurant to six others who joined us. I was embarrassed!!

1  Thank easyeater70
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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