Ba Sho is as close to a true Japanese gastropub as there is in Columbus.

Ba Sho is as close to a true Japanese gastropub as there is in Columbus.

Ba Sho has beenoperating in its strip mall location at the southeast corner of Rt. 161 and Sawmill Road for more than two decades. And for every bit as long, the uninitiated have been confusing it with a diving outfitter. Though their logo may bear an uncanny resemblance to the international scuba flag, close inspection of the signage shows the word "sushi" inside the white diagonal stripe.

And though that hints at what lies within, it doesn't reveal all. While Ba Sho does indeed offer a wide variety of high-quality sushi choices, it primarily serves as an izakaya, or Japanese-style gastropub. That means small plates of Japanese favorites, as well as a variety of sakes and spirits. For culinary thrill-seekers, this means fun.

In the evenings, ask for the a la carte menu-most dishes on it will be $6 or less (and those that cost more are almost invariably well worth it). If you're hip to the virtues of fish collar, often thought to be one of the richestand most flavorful parts of the fish, look to the salt-grilled choices of salmon and yellowtail. Squid lovers will find much to like-their ika-geso kara-age is a favorite-as will tempura fans. Novel spins on duck, chicken, pork and beef also make appearances, as do some satisfying vegetable dishes.

Overall, Ba Sho's cooking exemplifies the clean, clear flavors and detail of Japanese cuisine and provides it at a very reasonable price. The green tea is hot, the sake is cold (or warmed if you prefer), and the ambience is the closest thing you'll find in Central Ohio to that of a true Japanese neighborhood restaurant.