Sometimes it’s refreshing to stumble upon a restaurant that doesn’t take itself too seriously.
From the outside, Kikyo is a serene-looking Japanese restaurant sitting just off the scenic Scioto River. But a boisterous greeting from the sushi line cooks quickly clues you in to the silly vibe at this place.
For more proof, just look to the menu descriptions: Kikyo deftly avoids the danger of a bunch of sushi rolls that sound identical by bestowing its specialty rolls with terrific names like Captain Crunch (shrimp tempura, avocado, masago, crunchy topping) and Hot Mess (salmon, avocado, cream cheese, spicy crab, masago, tobiko, tempura crunchies and ALL the sauces).
And it also has fun special promotions, like the Kikyo Butt Sushi Challenge, in which contestants have 10 minutes to eat a Stop Drop & Roll roll, topped with a sauce made from blazing-hot peppers.
As a burger-and-fries junkie, though, I was most intrigued by the collection of East-meets-West burgers, all topped with Asian-inflected ingredients and served with Japanese-style tater tots.
Let’s talk about these tots for a minute. A best-seller at Kikyo, they’re definitely one of a kind (my waiter claimed there’s nothing else like them in the whole country). They’re just your typical crispy, deep-fried potato nuggets, but they become positively addictive when sprinkled with Yukari, a zesty Japanese seasoning, and dipped in a spicy mayo sauce.
The tots are served as an appetizer, too, and they’ve quickly become one of Kikyo’s signature items.
But tots taste better with burgers. Like awe-inspiring Bibimbap Burger ($12), which is a standard-issue Angus burger topped with everything you’d find in the classic Korean rice dish bibimbap, minus the rice. So: thinly sliced veggies like carrots, cucumbers, peppers and sprouts, plus a great spicy red chili sauce and a fried egg.
The Bulgogi Burger ($9) is good, too, topped with two great sauces — a tangy Korean barbecue sauce and a housemade teriyaki number — and a cabbage-y Asian slaw.
∙ Shelley Mann is the editor of Crave, Columbus’ dining magazine. Keep up with her at ColumbusCrave.com.
Photo by Alysia Burton