Looking for a genuine Korean dining experience? Look no further than Diaspora in the University District.
When looking for an authentic dining experience, Korean cuisine can be a little hard to find. Most of the places you’ll run across are chain restaurants, diluted to cater to your average American tastes. It’s much easier to find mom and pop Chinese and Japanese kitchens in the Midwest than their Korean counter parts. Luckily, I happened to stumble into the most Korean little diner I’ve ever seen outside of a K-drama (Korean soap operas, not that I know anything at all about those).
First off let’s talk about the restaurant’s name. Diaspora, meaning “the dispersion of a people from their homeland.” Come on, that’s a pretty dope name for any restaurant specializing in international cuisine.
Located off High Street, right by the Ohio State University campus, Diaspora serves up as authentic a Korean dish as you’ll find in Columbus.
Not just that, but they also offer a decent variety of sushi and sashimi, which I usually really enjoy, but I was in the mood for a real Korean dish like bulgogi or bibim bap.
A little old Korean lady came from behind the counter to take my order and I almost squealed because of how adorable this woman was. She was patient and polite as I tried to navigate the menu. I went with an appetizer charmingly called “Monkey Brain” (relax, it very much isn’t actual monkey brains) and ordered Daeji Bulgogi (fried lean pork) for a main dish.
After taking my order she returned a short time later with an ice cold beer and a chilled mug.
I couldn’t help but be giddy with nerd-like, Koreaboo, fervor as I sipped on my beer while a soccer game played on the television and sugary K-pop music sounded away in the background. I felt like an extra in Coffee Prince or Secret Garden or Playful Kiss, Korean dramas that I can assure you I have never watched while home alone with my cat after several bottles of wine. Never.
The monkey brains were deep-fried mushroom halves stuffed with cream cheese, spicy tuna, and some sort of caviar and they were fantastic. A perfect taste and texture combination and not nearly as gross as I imagine real monkey brain to be. My bulgogi came out hot. It sizzled as she placed it in front of me with a bowl of rice and several pickled dishes. I’m not one to tap out when it comes to food, but this was a serious amount of chow for one person to finish.
Combined with a selection of fantastic Korean foods and amazingly polite and eager service, Diaspora is definitely worth checking out.
Whether you’re an adventurous eater or super nerd (which I am not, totally not), you’re in for a really special treat with this mom and pop Korean kitchen. You can find Diaspora at 2118 N High St, Columbus, OH 43201. They’re open Monday through Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., Saturday from 1 p.m. to 9:15 p.m., and Sunday from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. Mashikeh mogoseyo!