Will Drive for Sushi: Haiku provides beautiful decor, delish noms

Photo from Haiku’s Facebook page.

Culinary exploration is necessary at times when living in small-town Athens. Since Athens is not a far distance from the metropolis of Columbus, nothing provides a better excuse than a birthday celebration.

Finding quality sushi can be like a treasure hunt in Appalachia, but sushi is highly accessible in Columbus.

Haiku, located in the Short North of Columbus, separates itself from surrounding restaurants, beating them with looks and keeping patrons there for the culinary pleasure. Haiku is one of the few restaurants where a lone diner feels comfortable dining with nothing but taste to keep him or her company.

Traditional Asian décor receives a modern twist of comfort at Haiku. There is an exquisite outdoor seating area during the warmer weather. A small oasis of flowing fabric on trellises and a pond complete with a bridge and waterfall encompasses the area. Haiku should add warming elements like a cozy fire pit or outdoor heating device for the cold season so that the spa-like tranquility can be enjoyed year round.

Similarly, the indoor portion provides a very neutral color palette of grays and greens that trick the eye into believing the outdoors has come inside. White fabric swoops from the ceiling above diners, while candles and pendant lighting provide just enough of a glow for a pacifying feeling. But sitting near the door, the dining area can be chilly.

But the most playful part of the restaurant is the haikus hanging on the walls. Each diner has the opportunity to write a haiku and add it to the others.

Write first date drama
Or dreams floating in your head
Add to Haiku’s walls

While the décor set the stage, the meal was the main attraction.

Haiku’s sushi takes the center stage of the meal. The shrimp tempura roll falls into the limited category of perfectly battered and fried foods. A hearty dish packed with cream cheese, spicy mayo, masago (orange fish eggs of the capelin fish), avocado and shrimp tempura. The elements do not compete for attention but play off each other because the avocado and cream cheese cool the spicy mayo.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, the dragon roll embodies delicateness. Layer upon layer of finely sliced avocado cover the exterior while wrapped inside is eel and additional avocado. Instead of avocado overpowering the roll, I reveled in its softness melting in my mouth.

However, the dining experience did not go unscathed. The hot and sour lobster soup left a bitter taste in my mouth. It contains bits of lobster, fresh scallions and parsley that float in a broth that is overwhelmingly reminiscent of fish sauce.

Though the soup disappointed, the eda mame, which are steamed Japanese soybeans, provides a better appetizer. Warm pods Eating a bowl of steaming eda mame with my fingers and sucking the tender beans out of the sea-salted pod made me feel like a kid again.

The combination of the atmosphere and cuisine produces a gem in the North Shore. Haiku is worth the gas for the taste of sushi.

After winter break, Court Street will become home to the Ginger Hibachi Kitchen. Ginger will offer both Japanese steakhouse style food as well as sushi. Hopefully, Ginger will meet those sushi cravings as well as Haiku did.

Haiku

800 N. High St.

Columbus, OH 43215

(614) 294-8168

Average meal price: $10

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