Table Talk

Build-your-own sushi available for downtown crowd

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Jack Chantharangsy wasn't even planning to open his own restaurant.

He was all set to interview at a top-rated restaurant in Chicago when he got the call: a lease had fallen through at a downtown storefront and would he be willing to fill it?

It was snap-decision time: work at a top-10 sushi restaurant in the Windy City or roll the dice on an untested concept in Columbus.

With enough confidence in his ability, he chose the latter.

About a month ago, Chantharangsy opened Maki Go, a build-your-own sushi restaurant at 12 E. Broad St., just east of High Street downtown.

"It's something fresh and something new downtown," he said.

He had a rough idea in mind, but had about two weeks to put the wheels in motion to get it open on time.

As of last week, the place had no signs, awnings or even a website. It seats about 30.

Maki Go is essentially a Chipotle-style sushi place, where the rolls are assembled per order. They start with a base of seaweed or sesame-soy paper, followed by either sushi rice or brown rice. Customers then choose a protein -- crabstick salad, fresh tuna, marinated beef, salmon, honey-soy chicken and tofu -- a number of fresh vegetables and a sauce.

The roll is then sliced on the bias and served in two pieces. Rolls cost $7.49 to $8.99 each.

Bowls are an alternative to the rolls. Also on the menu are edamame, seaweed salad and miso soup.

"I was never supposed to be in the restaurant business," said Chantharangsy, whose father was a partner in a trio of successful restaurants -- Hunan Lion, Hunan House and Joey Chang's.

He was raised in the restaurant industry and was expected to move on to a professional job. And he did, for a while. After high school, he worked as an underwriter in an insurance company before leaving the corporate life altogether for the Sushi Institute of America in Los Angeles.

After living in L.A. for three years and training for one year, Chantharangsy moved back to Columbus, immersing himself in the local sushi scene, working at places such as Moshi, Tensuke Market and Aoi.

Flush with ideas, he decided to keep things pretty straightforward, assembling each roll in three to four minutes for the busy downtown worker.

"The customers, they're the chefs; we're just using our hands," he said.

The place is open lunch hours weekdays and closed Saturday and Sunday. For more information, call 614-732-5451.

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The fresh new batch of bakeries can have their cupcakes. Sue Bissonnette has her whoopie pie.

Bissonnette is the owner of Sweet Tooth Cottage, which recently took over the vacant Swades VegG Express at 10221 Sawmill Parkway.

The storefront faces Presidential Drive, behind Vittoria Ristorante & Bar. It even has a drive-through.

The whoopie pies, also known as black moon or BFO (big fat Oreo), have marshmallow fluff between thin layers of chocolate cake that has a firm consistency.

Sweet Tooth started out as a home business, where Bissonnette specialized in iced butter cookies, which she made -- and shaped and decorated -- for clients, whether celebrating showers, anniversaries or birthday parties.

Also on display are a variety of other cookie flavors, including chocolate chip, lemon butter, salty caramel and oatmeal raisin.

"It turned into quite a passion," she said. "By moving out, we were able to add the rest of our line."

The place is open lunch and early evening hours six days a week, closed Sunday. For more information, call 614-361-6166.

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