Kahiki Reincarnated as Strip Mall Chinese Buffet

Smoking drink at Tropical Bistro, photo by Jeff Chenault
Smoking drink at Tropical Bistro,
photo by Jeff Chenault

There’s a whole lot of excitement in Ohio these days, at the discovery of a new restaurant with some strong ties to the celebrated Kahiki Supper Club.

The Kahiki, one of the grand dames of old tiki palaces, tragically closed in 2000. Earlier this year, Ngo and Soeng Thong opened up Tropical Bistro in Hilliard, Ohio, not far from the old Kahiki location. Ngo was a general manager at the Kahiki, and Soeng was a chef. They recruited the Kahiki’s Executive Chef, Mickey Cheung, to join them, along with other former Kahiki employees. They have opened their restaurant in an unassuming storefront in a humble strip mall, in a space that was last a typical Chinese buffet. Much of the decor in the place is from the buffet, and is thus pretty unremarkable, but there are a few pieces from the Kahiki, including a few tikis and a few lamps. What has Ohio tikiphiles all aflutter is the return of the Kahiki food and the Kahiki beverages, which are served with good old Kahiki hospitality.

The drink and food menus are reportedly exactly the same, right down to the same colorful drink images. The drinks are served with dry ice, and in tiki mugs. The quality of the food is reportedly even better than it had been at the Kahiki.

The Kahiki was famous for its grand interior, and that’s definitely missing at Tropical Bistro. But as James Teitelbaum, author of Tiki Road Trip, says:

Tropical Bistro is the only place within a 350 mile radius of the ground it stands on that serves a decent tropical drink.

Yeah, the place has a TiPSY factor of near zero, but hell, their cocktails are a miracle, and are the only ones worth drinking the in the state of Ohio… not to mention Kentucky, Indiana, or Pennsylvania.

And if anyone would know, it’s James. It’s not quite the celebrated return of the Kahiki that some have hoped for, but it’s a start. Jeff Chenault kicked off the frenzy with his discovery of this place, followed up with a review and some photos; he’s so excited about this place he can barely type straight. So, if you’ve got a hankering for a Smoking Eruption, head for Tropical Bistro.

2 thoughts on “Kahiki Reincarnated as Strip Mall Chinese Buffet

  1. Thanks for the nice little write up Humuhumu. I really do like this place and I finally can get a decent mai tai and order the Tahitian Mermaid for the first time in 6 years!!! The Kahiki spirit is alive and well in Columbus, Ohio.

    Cheers and Mahalo,


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