We Are Columbus

Kristen Schmidt

On my first magical visit to Kihachi, the venerable restaurant just off Sawmill Road in Dublin, I blanched at the suggestion we would eat monkfish liver and other strange foods that were being translated for us from the Japanese-language portion of the menu. Japanese food to me was sushi rolls, miso soup and, if the place was adventurous, some red-bean ice cream for dessert. There was no Philadelphia roll on the menu at Kihachi.

My dining companion offered advice: Just say yes to anything chef Ryuji "Mike" Kimura placed in front of us. That meal was full of firsts, besides that luxurious, pate-like monkfish liver: crisp spears of burdock root, sweet shrimp pate sandwiched between deep-fried slices of lotus root, a tofu dish topped with flakes of shaved dried fish that danced in the steam rising from the bowl.

The experience was not merely transforming (How often do we get to try flavors for the very first time?) but transporting: For those few hours, we were not only in Columbus. We were also in Japan, experiencing a foreign country through the able hands and mind of chef Mike, as so many people call him.

If you live in Columbus, you have hundreds of opportunities to dine like this and hundreds more opportunities to be taken to another place through an artistic, cultural or shopping experience. Seemingly unbeknownst to people who think this is just another great American football town, metropolitan Columbus is a melting pot of cultures, home to more than 100,000 people who were born in other countries.

People are drawn to Columbus from their home countries by jobs at our world-class research, higher education and medical institutions. They come to work at our corporate headquarters. They come because their friends and relatives are here, and they know they'll find a familiar community.

They stay because they discover Columbus is a great place to raise a family, find a good job and live a good life. They see our global identity, even if we have a hard time seeing it ourselves sometimes.

This month, we explore the international magnetism of Columbus. In our cover story,The Story of Us,you'll meet people who came from far corners of the world and hear the stories of why they decided to stay here. Explore our quirky strip malls, home to dozens of internationally flavored businesses. Find lots of reasons to get out of your neighborhood and explore another one, too.

Assistant editor Michelle Sullivan writes about Columbus' Ethiopian community, Samson and Tsegaye's 7,500-Mile Journey, through two friends who arrived in the U.S. under vastly different circumstances. Writer Joel Oliphint examines the constant need to bridge the language gap between immigrants and service providers, The Interpreters, and finds that being bilingual is hardly the only requirement for the job.

We could think of no better subject matter to accompany the debut of our yearlong project to redesign Columbus Monthly. When we decided to embark on this journey, we knew we wanted more than just a fresh batch of fonts. The endpoint would be a reimagined identity for your city magazine.

We rethought what we do as a magazine, and we asked ourselves how we could better reflect and shape this community. Above all else, our goal every month is to hand you the information and tools you want to be a smart, engaged, empowered citizen of the city.

We'll do that by introducing you to some of the city's most fascinating residents (meet restaurateur Yavonne Sarber). We'll further conversations about the city's challenges and issues. We'll give you the insider information that only a staff of people who are completely obsessed with getting the best out of Columbus can give you.

We're here to start conversations, too. We'd like to hear your reactions to the stories in this issue and in future issues.

The Columbus we love today is vastly different than the one that existed 30, 20 and even 10 years ago. It's time the city magazine acknowledges and embraces that.

With this issue, I'm proud to say that we are Columbus.


1. The rich beef pho at Huong Vietnamese Restaurant is just what the doctor ordered for the last gasps of winter. Warm up with a big bowl and get a kick out of the retro music videos playing on a TV at the rear of the spartan dining room. 1270 Morse Rd., North Side, 614-825-0303

2. I love the Besa candle ($20) at The Candle Lab. Not only does it smell amazing, but all profits from sales of the candle support Besa, which connects volunteers with projects throughout Columbus. So far, the organization has managed more than 90 service projects, contributed $63,776 in goods and services and logged almost 2,000 volunteer hours. givebesa.org

3. Find me at Skully's on March 5 losing all dancing inhibitions to the tunes of Lake Street Dive. The pop-jazz-swing quartet is back in Columbus just a few months after a memorable evening at Natalie's Coal-Fired Pizza and Live Music. Expect the venue size to jump again next time-these cats are on fire. lakestreetdive.com