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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

Burger Bonanza: New restaurant opening in downtown tomorrow

614now Staff

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Burger fans in Downtown Columbus will soon have a new option to enjoy, according to a report from Columbus Business First. Belly Burger, a new concept from restaurateur Jeff Kover, will open this Friday at 26 N High St.

The location is the former site of Oliver's, which Kover purchased over a year ago from previous owner Yavonne Sarber.

Belly Burger will expand on Oliver's burger-centric menu while providing an update to the look and feel of the space. Once open, the menu will feature straightforward offerings with single, double, and triple three-ounce patties, a chicken sandwich, and fries for a side. Boozy milkshakes are also on the menu.

For more information, visit the Belly Burger on Facebook.

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Food & Drink

Portia’s Diner takes root on High Street

Regina Fox

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One of Columbus' favorite vegan restaurants has taken root in a new location. Portia's Diner is officially open at 3269 N High St. in the former Whole World Natural Bakery and Restaurant in Clintonville.

https://www.facebook.com/PortiasCafe/posts/3132161976810359

Portia's Diner offers comfort foods like pancakes, waffles, hamburgers, and burritos—all made with the same high-quality vegan, non-GMO, organic products customers have come to expect from Portia's.

Portia's Diner is open Tuesday through Sunday from 8am- 3pm. Visit portiascafe.com for more information.

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Food & Drink

Local nonprofit catering company announces new downtown cafe

614now Staff

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Nonprofit catering company and workforce development program Freedom a la Cart has announced plans to open its first full-service cafe + bakery and survivor resource center in downtown Columbus next summer at 123 E Spring St.

A nonprofit catering company and workforce development program that empowers and employs survivors of human trafficking, the Freedom a la Cart Cafe + Bakery will serve fresh-baked pastries, scratch-made meals, and locally roasted coffee under the direction of Consulting Chef BJ Lieberman. The menu will feature Freedom a la Cart favorites from the catering menu, as well as additional “a la minute” selections such as avocado and tomato tartini and house made brioche cinnamon toast.

The flagship cafe + bakery is expected to employ about 20 survivors, doubling the current number of survivors in Freedom’s workforce development program. The cafe also allows Freedom to extend its workforce training program to include valuable front-of-house job skills like point of sale operation, customer service education, and barista training, thereby broadening survivors’ marketability to transition into jobs in the community.

Skill-building and bonding will extend beyond the kitchen to the new “Freedom Home”—2,500 square feet of program and office spaces on the cafe’s second floor for survivors to call their own. The space will include a lounge area, a computer station for job searching and educational assistance, a trauma counseling office, and an area for group gatherings.

“In less than ten years, we’ve seen Freedom a la Cart evolve from a food cart to a successful catering operation, and now, a full-service cafe and community resource center,” said Paula Haines, Executive Director of Freedom a la Cart. “The Freedom Cafe + Bakery will not only allow us to share Freedom a la Cart’s delicious menu offerings with more of the community but will also broaden our outreach and advocacy efforts for human trafficking survivors throughout Columbus.”

Starting in the Summer of 2020, Freedom a la Cart Cafe + Bakery will be open to the public for breakfast and lunch from Monday through Saturday from 7am- 3pm. Catering orders will continue to be accepted at freedomalacart.org/catering/ or by phone.

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