Psyched on sake

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Walk 15 feet from any college campus and you're bound to smack a bar with drink specials on Natty Light and wings. It's only natural that cash-strapped students drink what and where they can afford, but they don't have to sacrifice variety.

Nestled in the heart of Campus, Bento Go Go is one of the few places in the area to enjoy sushi and sake. The two-story space features an upstairs lounge with 10 types of sake and an assortment of import bottles - plus, they're all half-priced during weekday happy hour from 6 to 9 p.m.

"We want to be a Campus bar, but we want to offer people something different," said Max Sung, Bento bar manager.

Fresh from a remodel last summer, Bento's bar sports a sharp, minimal decor interspersed with flat-panel TVs. There's a long, speckled granite bar with tall stools, but most of the small space is standing- or dancing-room only. The latter tends to happen weekend nights when DJs spin tunes at the bar.

A 32-ounce Mega Cactus Bowl ($6) is a quick way to start or end a Saturday night at Bento; the weekly special is a walloping kitchen sink of booze.

Daily drink specials abound inside the bar - like $2 shots on Fridays or $3 cocktails on Tuesdays - but the Sake Bomb ($11 for three) is a must-try. The bomb consists of a warm shot of sake placed on two chopsticks resting above a plastic cup of Sapporo; pound the bar top till it falls in the beer then chug away - it amuses drunks for hours.

Sake is probably better appreciated straight, and Bento Go Go's flight trays ($7) are a suiting way to sample a few flavors. If that's not your thing, the bar also hosts a decent selection of bottles - like Asahi, Newcastle and Sierra Nevada ($4) - and a couple domestic taps.

The lounge can be chill during the week, but the lower-level restaurant and patio stays busy. The colorful eatery serves fast-made entrees like Tempura Udon ($6.50), a hearty wide-noodle soup, and rice dishes such as the Curry Veggie Bowl ($5.25). The bento boxes add even more variety with entrees like Mango Chicken ($8.50) or Baked Salmon ($10.50) and side dishes such as kimchi, Korean potatoes and salad.

With eight-piece rolls under $6, Bento's sushi is a tasty value. The short sushi list includes specialty rolls like the popular Crunching Buckeye Roll ($5.75) with candied pecans, crab stick and BBQ eel thrown in the mix. Oh, bonus points: Bento Go Go now delivers, too.

Bento Go Go

1728 N. High St., Campus




Restaurant: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. daily

Bar: 6 p.m.-2:30 a.m. Friday-Saturday

6 p.m.-close Sunday -Thursday