It was like a magic trick. Over and over again I watched chef Ryuki Kimura (known more commonly as Chef Mike) layer, roll and slice sushi rolls into perfectly equal pieces. For three hours, every time he'd turn them over to place on a carefully-chosen plate from a staggering wall of dishes, I'd think, "This time, one will be bigger than the other."

It was like a magic trick. Over and over again I watched chef Ryuki Kimura (known more commonly as Chef Mike) layer, roll and slice sushi rolls into perfectly equal pieces. For three hours, every time he'd turn them over to place on a carefully-chosen plate from a staggering wall of dishes, I'd think, "This time, one will be bigger than the other."

Every time, I was wrong. There's a level of passion and technique at this Japanese gem in a Dublin strip mall unparalleled in the city. And Columbus chefs know it, too.

Kihachi is the kind of place chefs go to on their night off (including a handful of chefs on our top 10 list who use words like, "amazing" and "crazy good" to describe Chef Mike's food). Why? Because the food at Kihachi finds a way to pair savory umami with bitter, sweet, salt and acid-each dish awakening your taste buds in a new, surprising way.

Take a basket of fried lotus root stuffed with shrimp pate that comes plated with a little pile of salt and a small dish of a yuzu-spiked sauce. Dip these starchy root vegetables in the salt for a savory-salty burst of flavor. Or opt only for the yuzu if you want something softer, brighter. A few other favorites to test your taste buds: sweet and crunchy fried burdock (a thin root vegetable), prawn sashimi (the tails slightly cooked and vibrantly pink against the silver shellfish) and miso marinated pork.

The menu is lengthy, so come hungry and with friends willing to share. And if you're not sure what to order, it's safe to put your trust in chef Mike and order the omakase meal (a 10- to 12-course selection of small plates chosen at the chef's whim).

The stark decor and odd classical renditions of Beatles songs on the stereo don't score Kihachi high marks on ambiance. But that's not why you go here. The food is the entertainment, so make no plans for after your meal. You'll want to stay awhile.

#7 Alana's Food & Wine >>