Akai Hana is a vegan-friendly Japanese restaurant in the Kenny Centre shopping center, located in the overlapping portions of Columbus and Upper Arlington. Sushi is the main attraction, but there are plenty of other soups, appetizers and entrees available for vegetarians.
The restaurant is tucked back into an unassuming plaza with an international flavor. There is an Asian market, an Indian restaurant, a Thai restaurant, a Middle Eastern bakery and a Japanese bakery within the plaza. Akai Hana is accessible from either of the two parking lots.
Vegetarian starters include edamame, an Asian cabbage salad, miso soup and tofu preparations including agedashi. The miso soup is traditionally understated, and the fresh scallions add a delightful crunch to the satisfying, salty soy broth (Special note: request a vegetarian miso soup; the normal version contains bonito flakes).
The agedashi tofu consists of large tempura-battered tofu cubes served in a seaweed/soy sauce base. The crispy skin and soft, almost molten tofu soak up the savory sauce upon which the cubes rest.
There are a number of different vegetable sushi rolls at Akai Hana. I sampled the garden roll, cucumber roll and avocado roll. The cucumber roll had a nice crunch. The avocado roll was rich and soft. The garden roll is a temaki roll filled with cucumber, carrot, lettuce and radish. It was aesthetically and gustatorily pleasant. The plating of the sushi rolls was very nice.
Lunch specials include miso soup and two rolls for $9 or three rolls for $12.50. Dinner prices are somewhat expensive compared to other sushi joints.
The decor is classic with modern accents. Service is prompt and efficient.