Chef Kuukua Yomekpe grew up in Ghana, and serves West African cuisine at Asempe Kitchen, her pop-up concept at The Hills Market Downtown and Platform Beer Co. The Upper Arlington resident came to Columbus for college and graduate school, and hopes to have a brick-and-mortar restaurant in three years. After spending more than a decade on the West Coast, she's rediscovering the local dining scene. Here's where she eats and drinks now that she's back in Columbus.
Beer Bar: “I like the atmosphere at Platform. They have three garage-style doors. It's really airy and open, and it doesn't feel crowded. I'll order whatever the latest sour beer they have. Recently, I had a passion fruit beer I really liked.”
Upscale Bar: “I like the big-city feel at Forno Kitchen + Bar. I lived in New York for a little bit, and Forno feels like I'm not in Columbus.”
Comfort Food: Mark Pi's Express on Fifth Avenue. “I always get the same thing—Mala String Beans with Chicken. It's spicy, and it has rice. I grew up on a lot of rice. Anything that has rice and is spicy usually gets my attention.”
Special Occasion: “I go to Wycliff's Kitchen on the North Side. It's Kenyan food. It's like the stuff I grew up with, but cooked differently. Fried dough, plantains, cornmeal and coleslaw. … It's really comfortable and there's nothing pretentious about it. The chef came out to talk to me, which is a really nice touch.”