Sushi SenSation

Shelley Mann, Capital Style

Bexley has to have one of the most charming downtown strips in Central Ohio. It's that perfect blend of old and new-the historic Drexel movie theater and a Graeter's housed in an old drugstore sit next to modern art galleries and a sparkly Jeni's.

And Moshi Sushi is the neighborhood's new crown jewel, occupying the Bexley Gateway development's highest-profile spot. The wedge-shaped little restaurant is cozy but chic, with white tablecloths and a pressed-tin ceiling. A narrow patio offers seating overlooking bustling Main Street. It's open for lunch and dinner on weekdays and dinner on weekends.

The chefs work their magic behind an expansive sushi bar filled with all sorts of gorgeous, gem-hued raw fish, and bartenders create specialty cocktails from behind a tiny actual bar with a couple of stools.

A starters menu is filled with winning options, like the colorful green-and-red Seaweed Special ($3.95), a small duo of emerald green seaweed strands and wasabi-spiked crab salad. The Asari Miso Soup ($4.50) is a nice take on the traditional Asian appetizer, brimming with Manila clams, spinach and scallions.

But the most interesting and delicious of the starters is the ingenious Sushi Panini ($8.95)-the sandwich version of a sushi roll. The crunchy "bread" is actually rice patties encrusted with crushed walnuts and panko, then filled with avocado and your choice of spicy tuna, crab or salmon.

The sushi roll list is a little on the quirky side, with Americanized combos like the O-H-I-O ($10.75) filled with deep-fried avocado, cream cheese and sweet potato, the mozzarella-topped Italianese ($12.95) and the Banana Roll ($7.95), made with cream cheese and avocado.

Skip the pricey Moshi Roll (an $18.95 king crab-based roll topped with seared kobe beef), but definitely try the Hurricane Roll ($16.95), a pretty cucumber-wrapped concoction of whitefish, tuna, crab, salmon, seaweed salad, avocado and tobiko dabbed with a spicy mayo sauce.

Moshi has a long list of wines, sakes and Japanese beers, plus fruity cocktail creations (all $9)-including several made with Ozeki sake. Try the Rising Sun (sake mixed with orange juice and grenadine) or the Tokyo Rose (Belvedere vodka paired with Ozeki and Midori melon liqueur).

The Mango Mousse ($4.95) is a surprisingly delightful dessert. The sweet slice has a consistency that's halfway between cheesecake and ice cream, with just the right amount of sweet mango kick. Topped with whipped cream and fresh berries, it's a very refreshing end to a very refreshing meal.

Shelley Mann is the editor of Crave, Columbus' new glossy dining magazine.

Moshi Sushi

2152 Main St., Bexley