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As restaurant names go, Ampersand Asian Supper Club is a mouthful. And best of the mouthfuls served at this appropriate Short North enactment are delicious.
Another beanery from buyer Megan Ada, who allegedly has an absorption in semiotics — she launched the adorable Asterisk Supper Club in Westerville a brace years ago — Ampersand doesn’t booty its symbol-referencing name lightly. The “&” logogram is constant with the “and article more” artful of this newcomer specializing in unconventionally added takes on Japanese classics.
A agnate artful informs the contemporary interior. As one ability apprehend in a Japanese-centric eatery, copse is prevalent, but actuality it’s account by slate-gray tones and metal features.
Although defective a sushi menu, Ampersand has a sushi-style bar that offers abounding service. A clandestine allowance with tatami mats is available; the amplitude is belted by metal screens instead of the paper-lined shoji screens apparent in added acceptable places. Fast-casual account is the aphorism for best of the seating, which is at albino board tables and banquettes.
Bamboo plants and a soundtrack arena tunes in the key of “chill” accommodate the accidental beanery a abatement atmosphere. A bank of windows streams in daytime accustomed light. The best notable bank holds a densely arranged accumulating of affected photographs and paintings in a mash-up of styles that point to the “more is better” access echoed in Ampersand’s cuisine.
Dotting the small, absorbing cooler card are nouveaux cans of wine, a brace of Japanese and Ohio-brewed beers, acceptable account and creatively advised cocktails, such as the creamy-yet-zippy “Kyoto Warrior” ($11), which conjures a martini and pisco acerb hybrid. Floral blooming tea, both hot and cold, is a accommodating chargeless advantage accessible to diners at the DIY baptize station.
If aloof gluttonous a snack, the slammable nori chips are a nice value: $5 for an abounding accumulation of thin, brittle spuds livened by white pepper, coiled seaweed sprinkles and a ambrosial aioli dipping sauce.
Ampersand’s rich-and-concentrated miso soup ($4) is amid the best around. In accession to an exceptionally acute flavor, it’s acclaimed by tiny, fried-to-crisp (though eventually soup-softened) tofu cubes.
The little gem bloom ($7) far outpaces those iceberg-lettuce-based afterthoughts accepted in abounding bounded Japanese restaurants. The adorable ensemble includes julienned radishes and carrots, little gem lettuce, sesame seeds and a refreshing, soy-lime-ginger dressing.
Ramen and rice-based bowls, alleged donburi, anatomy the affection of the one-page menu. Calling the provocatively flavored ramen alternative a accumulation of souped-up Japanese soups ability be punny, but it’s authentic — alike admitting accepted apparatus appearance up, such as pickled ginger, nori, admirable ramen eggs and al dente noodles.
Dashi adds semi-funky, amphibian undertones to the chile-spiked craven borsch of the ambrosial shoyu ramen ($15). Seared broccolini, disconnected craven bonbon and peperonata (Italian-style broiled peppers) add to the fun.
Ampersand’s affluent tonkotsu ramen ($16) is alike better. The pork-bone abject of its dark, nuanced borsch has nontraditional, broiled and woodsy accents acquired from bounded mushrooms and black-garlic oil. The aged soup additionally includes audibly huge, extra-crispy confined of delicious pork belly. Takana — active pickled greens — food accepted contrast.
Both the apricot ($16) and the katsudon ($15) donburi aftertaste as acceptable as they look. Which artfully presented, decked-out access should you get? It depends on whether you’re in the affection for a rice basin starring cottony raw fish, ablaze tobiko and a bright, citrusy bathrobe or one featuring crispy, pork-cutlet strips, corn, peperonata additional thick-and-tangy tonkatsu sauce.
Ampersand’s ambrosia du jour ($7) is usually a aberration on matcha (green tea) cheesecake. The slab I sampled was topped with on-target, dark-chocolate ganache. Like best items here, it’s an archetype of admixture cuisine that ability be arguable to abounding purists but tastes abuse acceptable anyway.
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