Rooh wants central Ohio diners to reconceptualize Indian fare in a contemporary format, both in flavor and presentation.
Calling itself a progressive restaurant, pairing ancient recipes with modern cooking techniques, Rooh opened Nov. 15 in the former Westies Gastropub, 685 N. High St. in the Short North.
"I think people, if they come in with an open mind, will be able to find something" they like on the menu, owner Bhavesh Kishinchand said.
The menu was conceived by Sujan Sarkar, the founding chef of Rooh in San Francisco, who is in town to help execute the menu properly before chef Swapan Das takes over, Kishinchand said.
Butter chicken, a staple on many Indian menus, is different at Rooh, with the curry sauce developing a natural sweetness from blended roasted red peppers, not sugar. The chicken thighs are cooked in the tandoor oven and braised in the sauce. The dish gets a last-minute dash of dehydrated butter before it is served.
Some customers might do a double take when they see braised short ribs on the menu, as Indian Hindus do not eat beef.
Kishinchand said the use of beef and pork -- the latter being off-limits to Indian Muslims -- is an acknowledgment of changing cultures abroad and American tastes.
"If you were to visit India today, you'd see a lot of beef on the menu," he said.
The meat, in a tart, peppery sauce, is seared for texture. The marrow taken from the beef bones is mixed with potatoes to make croquettes, served on the side.
"Gunpowder" scallops, seared to a deep tan on one side, are nestled in a corn and sea-urchin sauce on the plate.
Spices are toasted and ground in-house. Kishinchand said the food is not spicy, but the ingredients provide a warming glow on the palate. The menu is limited by design to 12 starters and eight entrees, with prices ranging from $10 to $32. Kishinchand said that might seem excessive when compared with other restaurants of its style, but an entree can serve three people.
Craft cocktails are influenced by the flavors of India, with tonics and herbs adding to the variety of tastes, from astringent to sweet.
The restaurant space is 7,000 square feet, large even for Short North standards. It seats 114 in a long, narrow dining room highlighted mostly by blue, gold and red hues.
Since the first Rooh opened in 2017 in San Francisco, locations have followed in Chicago, New York and New Delhi, India.
Kishinchand said he worked for two years at the San Francisco location and helped open the one in Chicago, all the while trying to persuade the founders to let him represent the brand in Columbus.
"I feel like I have a good footing," he said.
Hours are 5 to 10 p.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays, 5 to 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 5 to 9 p.m. Sundays. The restaurant is closed Mondays. For more information, call 614-972-8678.
K House: Asian Delicacies is a Chinese restaurant in the Bethel Road corridor unafraid to flaunt its authentic cuisine and add its style to other dishes.
Taking over the former space of Hong Kong Express, 5230 Bethel Center Mall in Columbus, the full-service restaurant features dishes such as king oyster mushrooms in a special sauce, a version of hot pot with meatballs and tofu, corn in an egg-yolk sauce, and fried eggplant in a spicy sweet-and-sour sauce.
Entree prices range from $10.95 to $31.95, the latter for the most popular dish on the menu: crabs over crispy rice cakes.
The owners of the 24-seat K House are husband and wife Perry Ji and Kate Hu, who make several desserts on-premises.
Tempe Taco Co., celebrating co-owner Derek Maklezow's upbringing in Arizona, is open at 7362 E. Main St. in Reynoldsburg.
The restaurant specializes in Mexican-style street tacos, among other south-of-the-border fare, such as guacamole flights and queso fundido with chorizo.
Maklezow's business partner is Brett Sawman. Maklezow also owns Prost Beer and Wine Cafe next door.