Menkoi Ramen House – 1004 Gervais Street, Columbia, SC 29201
Located in Columbia’s upscale “Vista” district, this brand-new restaurant presents a fairly novel concept: a Japanese restaurant which isn’t sushi- or hibachi-centric. The decor at Menkoi is simple, modern, and not distracting. The experience is not enhanced by the handful of awkwardly-placed plasma televisions. The layout of the restaurant is tricky, with the kitchen area bulging into the middle of the long, slender restaurant. The portions of food were ample, and well-prepared, however they were lacking in flavor. Other than a vague salty, broth flavor, there really wasn’t much to the ramen. Overall, though no element of the experience was entirely terrible, one was left feeling let-down by the gestalt of the dining experience.
Wasabi Japanese Restaurant – 4561 Hard Scrabble Road, Columbia, SC 292229
Wasabi is a restaurant the greatest flaw of which is its location. Located 25 minutes from downtown Columbia in a small shopping center on Hard Scrabble Road, this restaurant escapes the notice of most Columbia residents. This is unfortunate because Wasabi is the best sushi restaurant in Columbia. The sushiya is an old Japanese man who carefully crafts and garnishes each roll with great attention to detail. The knife work is excellent, as is the presentation. Careful thought was obviously paid to pairing ingredients in a way which compliments each element of the dish. Even the pre-meal miso soup is served with greater attention to detail than it is at the typical Japanese restaurant. The soup is presented with an array of noodles and marinated vegetables for the diner to add to the broth. The decor is typical of sushi restaurants, and is tasteful and not distracting. The staff is highly competent and attentive to diner needs.