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Food & Drink

Truckin’ Tuesdays: A Food Highlight of Ninja Bowl

614now Staff

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Originally in 614 Magazine, written by Kim Leddy

Nothing brings hordes of hungry people downtown like the Columbus Food Truck Festival. From its debut five years ago, the eatery-on-wheels celebration has grown into one of the biggest events of the summer. The convoy of trucks from all around the Midwest will set up in the Columbus Commons August 12th and 13th.

Each year is also an opportunity to try out new trucks as they pull up to the bumper of old favorites. Three we’re excited about this year are all locally-grown: and this week we’re talking about Ninja Bowl.

 

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Ninja Bowl has been rolling around the city since the turn of the year and will pull up to the Columbus Food Truck Festival with all bowl menu for meat lovers and veggie folks alike. Add some edamame, harumaki, and gyoza, and you have a passport to Japanese street food. Run by husband and wife, Andre and Amanda Setiawan, you can’t miss their colorful truck wrap making its way across the city.

What inspired Ninja Bowl? My daughter inspired us to open Ninja Bowl because she loves Japanese food. When we watch the The Great Food Truck Race, she is always asking how we can win the prize. And with a food truck, we make our own schedule so we can have family time.

When did you start cooking? I learned to cook since I was little to help my aunt open a restaurant. I got to the United States at the end 1994 and I worked at a Japanese restaurant in New York City and became a head chef in 2004 cooking traditional Japanese, Asian fusion, Japanese fusion, and sushi. In 2012, we moved to Ohio; I was still passionate about cooking. And then I decided to open my food truck to bring my Japanese kitchen on the street.

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Are these your own recipes? Our recipes come from my experience working as a chef, and then I alter them in my way to fit in Ohio taste and, of course, to fit in the food truck world.

What’s the best and worst thing about running a food truck? The best thing about owning the food truck is that we can introduce ourselves to clients through food we sell; it is like having the kitchen on the street and it is pretty cool. The hardest thing is moving everyday—I mean, it’s like moving your kitchen everyday.

What’s Ninja Bowl’s signature dish? Our special dish, is our signature/best seller, is the chicken bowl—our special babekyu chicken on the bed of white rice, served with sautéed fresh vegetables and drizzled with our signature teriyaki sauce.

Follow Ninja Bowl on Facebook to keep track of their whereabouts. 

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Food & Drink

Secret Swensons: Off-menu items you have to try

614now Staff

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It was a dark time in Central Ohio two years ago when there were no Swensons drive-ins. Now, we've got four locations to choose from (Dublin, Polaris, Hilliard, and New Albany), and a list of off-menu items to spice up your next visit.

Because the restaurant begins cooking your food the moment you order, a wide range of customizations are possible. Pair this "kitchen-at-your-command" concept with Swensons “never say no” attitude, and you've got a unique cornucopia of hidden-in-plain-site item customizations available.

"Over the course of our 86-year history, eager and loyal customers (known as Swenatics) have found hidden treasures in our menu possibilities," Swensons said in a release.

Below are a few customizations you won’t find listed on the menu but are crowd favorites.

Sandwiches

  • Grilled Cheese with Coney Sauce: For those who love a little bit of burger with their cheese.
  • Fish Sandwich “Galley Boy Style”: Galley-boy goodness isn’t only for burgers. Swenatics often order fish sandwiches or fried chicken “Galley Boy Style,” with two secret sauces (one tangy, one sweet) and cheese.
  • Egg Salad Sandwich with Cheese and Bacon: Although Swensons don’t serve “breakfast,” Swenatics have found a tasty breakfast hack by adding bacon and cheese to their egg salad sandwiches.

Crispy Extras

  • Broken Onion Rings: Think of an onion ring that handles like a fry. Swensons takes their onion rings and breaks them apart before cooking, which creates the perfect bite-sized piece. No more worry of half of the onion falling out on the first bite!
  • Ordering “Cajun-style:” Amp up the flavor by ordering something “Cajun-style.” The smoky, garlicky, and peppery Cajun spice can be added to any crispy extra or sandwich.

Sweets

  • Swensons has 18 different milkshake flavors available, and you can mix as many as you want. Really. Some favorites include a PB&J shake (Peanut Butter and Grape), Mocha & Mint, Blueberry & Lemon, and Peanut Butter & Hot Fudge.
  • Swensons is always down for a dessert mashup. Try asking for a Hot Fudge Milkshake with a brownie or Xango (our cheesecake rolled in flaky pastry) mixed in.

Never been to Swensons? Check out the following tips to optimize your first visit:

  • Park facing the restaurant. Since all dining takes place within your vehicle, service revolves around your headlights. Turn them on and a Curb Server will come sprinting over to help you. Leave them off and they’ll leave you to enjoy your meal.
  • No need to leave your car—Swensons is a drive-in through and through. Once your order’s ready, their Curb Servers run it out to you on a nifty tray that either hooks to your window or the inside of your door, weather permitting.
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Food & Drink

Discount Date Destinations: Saturday Samplings at The Refectory

Lindsay Pinchot

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Welcome to Discount Date Destinations, where we’ll bring you the best places in the city with date-night-worthy atmospheres and food and drink specials that won’t break the bank. In today’s installment, we head to The Refectory.

For many, The Refectory evokes images of elegant anniversary dinners and impressive date nights, and rightly so. The Refectory has long been established as one of Columbus’ best and most beautiful restaurants, serving contemporary American and classic French cuisine. It probably isn’t one of the first places you think of when you hear “discount,” but maybe it should be.

Every Saturday afternoon from 12pm- 3pm, The Refectory hosts Saturday Samplings, a weekly wine tasting event. For only $15-$20 per person, depending on the flight that week, you taste a selection of different wines and help yourself to light hors d’oeuvre while relaxing in the Refectory’s charming bar area.

When you’re done tasting, additional glasses of the wines are only $5 each, so you can stay and sip your favorites. Last weekend, my husband and I attended the first in a themed, two-part Saturday Sampling series: For the Love of Wine. We had a great experience.

The ambiance was wonderful, especially for a wintry Saturday. Upon arrival, we were given a warm welcome and tasting cards listing information about each of the wines we’d be sampling. At the top of the tasting cards was a question, “When did you first fall in love with wine?” which led to some entertaining conversation, both between the two of us and with the staff. The sommelier poured each wine as we were ready for it, giving us a little background on it and explaining what we could expect from the taste. Between glasses we snacked on an array of breads, cheeses, oils, and hearty dips.

The best part? None of the selections were too pricey and all were available for purchase from The Refectory’s wine shop. Our favorite taste of the day was only $12.99 a bottle.

Saturday Samplings is a fun, relaxed way to experience The Refectory where all wine drinkers, from newbies to decades-long aficionados, will feel welcome. For the Love of Wine (Part 2) is this Saturday, so grab your valentine and head to The Refectory for a cozy afternoon. When you’re done, buy your favorite bottle to take home and split snuggled up on the couch.

https://www.facebook.com/refectoryrestaurant/posts/10158294760883826:0

The Refectory is located at 1092 Bethel Rd. For more information, visit refectory.com.

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Food & Drink

You’ll Just Love High Street’s newest coffee shop

614now Staff

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It's a brew-tiful day because we have a brand new coffee shop in town! Just Love Coffee Café's first Ohio location is now open at 330 S High St.

Just Love Coffee Cafe began when founder and current CEO Rob Webb and his wife, Emily, made the decision to adopt from Ethiopia, according to the company website. The experience inspired them to open a for-profit venture with part of the proceeds dedicated to charities.

"Just Love Coffee Cafe grew out of a need to do positive things in the world,” said Webb on the website.

https://www.facebook.com/justlovecoffee/photos/a.155652930090/10157487354660091/?type=3&theater

Just Love Coffee will host the grand opening on February 29 with a portion of every sale benefitting the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Ohio.

Visit justlovecoffeecafe.com for more information.

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