A magnificent mash-up of styles

I can often tell a lot about a restaurant that features ramen by how it prepares its tonkotsu ramen—a rich variety of the famed Japanese noodle soup that classically stars a milky white broth made with long-cooked pork bones. At Ampersand, whose tagline could be “traditions be damned,” the complex pork broth is unconventionally dark and accented by woodsy and roasted notes from local mushrooms and black garlic oil. Rather than a spare presentation, this tonkotsu arrives loaded with bold components, such as mammoth hunks of extra-crispy pork belly and contrasting clusters of takana (pickled mustard greens). The soup is distinctly delicious.

Prefer chicken-based ramen? Pick Ampersand’s chili-spiked spicy shoyu and you’ll get peperonata (Italian-style stewed peppers), seared broccolini plus shredded, dark-meat confit.

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This Short North eatery from the team who launched Asterisk Supper Club in Westerville obviously takes the “&” spelled out in its name seriously: Here, you get “and something more.”

That message is conveyed in Ampersand’s interior, too. Archetypal Japanese restaurant tropes, such as blond wood and a tatami-mat-equipped dining area, are offset by slate gray tones, metal fixtures, paintings and photos in a mash-up of styles, plus a chill-out soundtrack of contemporary music.

Fusion-cuisine skeptics might be nonplussed. But if you’d enjoy superior miso soup, slammable fries sprinkled with nori, vibrant donburi (rice-based bowls) starring lovely raw salmon or pork-cutlet strips (katsudon) and a creamy yet zippy cocktail that conjures a martini merged with a pisco sour, then say “yes” to “and something more” at Ampersand.


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