Welcome to the Tiki Central 2.0 Beta. Read the announcement
Celebrating classic and modern Polynesian Pop

Tiki Central / Locating Tiki

Tropical Bistro, Hilliard, OH (restaurant)

Pages: 1 2 3 4 147 replies

Name:Tropical Bistro
Street:3641 Fishinger Road

Holy Crap!!! This place is AMAZING!!! It just opened up a few weeks ago and I finally had a chance to go there and check the place out. At first site it doesn't look like much, a typical Asian restaurant in a dilapidated strip mall. More work needs to definitely be done to spruce up the outside. This would probably be my ONLY complaint if I had to have one. Once inside though things begin to change. The first thing you see upon entering, I am happy to report, is a tiki mask that once graced the walls of the Kahiki restaurant. After be happily greeted by the hostess we were sat down next to the Sunday buffet brunch area. Also close by was Francis Llacuna a hawaiian born guitarist and vocalist. I am not kidding here folks but a couple minutes after settling in to our seats, Francis went into the Hukilau song! My wife Deb and I laughed and started clapping much to the bewilderment of the rest of the people in the restaurant. It was simply unbelievable! This is the first place I have ever visited in Ohio that makes you feel that you are home. That warm fuzzy feeling you get when you enter a good Polynesian restaurant. I talked to both owners and found out that Alice Tsao was going to make an appearance as well this afternoon. I just couldn't get over how things were clicking. Next a 20 year old veteran of the Kahiki stopped in to say hello. They have a big staff of Kahiki restaurant workers here. Seong Thong, partner in the Bistro, was a former cook at the Kahiki.

Lots of Aloha Spirit too!!! The food was even BETTER than the Kahiki. They classify themselves under the Pan-Asian banner and it is very good. The buffet was fantastic! They even have food items from the Kahiki as well, such as my ultimate favorite dish The Tahitian Mermaid. I am still trying to calm down over here. Oh shit, the drinks!!!! They have a full tiki drink menu and it uses the exact same image as the Kahiki drink menu. Color pictures of all the drinks are inside as well. Seong made me a Mai Tai and made Deb a smoking eruption. It was very tasty and not overly fruity. The Mai Tai packed quite a punch as well. I am felling no pain right now, Ha! He even gave these to use "on the house!!!". They also have a number of other "smoking drinks" that are served up in Tiki Mugs designed by our good friend Mario from Hoffman Pottery.

We have to really support a place like this. I truly believe that the owners have a vision. It was an incredible experience that I won't forget. Now if we can just get a few more tikis in there and some hula girls too, hmmmm................

Go there NOW!!!!!

Cheers and Mahalo,


Wow, I saw this place and would never go in unless you posted this! They need to wash off the wall where the sign is, you can see the dirt stains from the old sign. I always said if its dirty in the areas you can see, look out! Because the back of the house is twice as dirty. But I will give it a try on your advise.

Somebody get pictures!

Looks like the SPIRIT of the Kahiki may have survived, after all! Congrats Jeff!

Hopefully this link will work. These are the pictures I took yesterday!!!


Cheers and Mahalo,


Please copy and paste the link to the pics into your browser. Otherwise you will get kicked to the kapu curb by the HTA files anti-hotlinking script that prevents spammers from eating up our news page with referals.



Great news! Mahalo. Keep the info/ reviews coming. I will take my Mom there next time I get home to Mt. Vernon.

A whole bunch of Moai's will be there this Friday 3/10/06. If anyone else wants to join us come on over. The rum will be flowing!!!!

Cheers and Mahalo,

I had a great time!!!! I'm so bombed by rum cocktails.

Thanks to all that attended.

A BIG thank you to everyone who came out to help celebrate and support this new establishment. The rum was indeed flowing until the wee hours in the morning. Tikiskip Rocks!!! Ahu was thee undisputed mixocologist of the evening! WOW!!

Thanks for showing a big round of support for the new mini Kahiki!!!!

Cheers and Mahlalo,


[ Edited by: tikiskip 2012-07-10 13:39 ]

Great pictures!! Thanks for posting these tikiskip! What a grand time. Looking forward to more nights like this. Next time without having to work the next morning. Boy, it was rough.

Cheers and Mahalo,


Oh Sweet!

This is too good! Oaktiki and I had explored the place prior to the rename, I'm trying to remember what it was then, a Mark Pi's China something or other I think? In the eariler incarnation they also offered cocktails, but not the Kahiki treasures like the smoking eruption!

The 'bones' of the place are the same as the earlier, the furniture, the gates, the foo dogs, but trust me, before, you were not greeted by Tikis in every direction!

I am so thrilled to see where the spirit of the Kahiki has landed!

Our next Columbus trip is already under big time contemplation! MAHALO!!!

Great pics.
Is there a little glass within the glass that holds the dry ice?

Yes there is a small glass in the larger glass. The larger glass is a brandy snifter type, And the small glass holds the dry ice. Hey sabina, let me know when you will be at the tropical bistro and we will meet you there. We live 7 mins from the place. If you have time we can show you our tiki digs.

Yes, the Tropical Bistro sits in a former space of a Mark Pi restaurant. I think they combined the decorations from that restaurant with a lot of Kahiki artifacts. Most of the wooden tables are from the Kahiki as well as a LOT of Orchids of Hawaii lights. Tikiskip tried to buy a table on Friday but was unsucessful. Hopefully they will tiki-fi the place just a little more. The drink menu and the food menu are almost exactly like the Kahiki. A lot of the employees came from the Kahiki as well. I really hope they do well. If last Friday night was any indication they will do very well indeed.

Sabina, please let us know if you are in the area. We would love to meet for food and drinks. I believe tikibars will be here to check the place out in a couple weeks.

Unga Bunga, yes, a small glass of dry ice is placed in the center of the BIG glass. When they serve it to you they pour water in the little glass and it erupts bigtime for about 5 or 10 minutes. Very tasty too!!

Next time anyone comes through OHIO please stop by!

Cheers and Mahalo,

My wife had her small purse. Otherwise we would have a table right now! I'm going back. come and see my table in the sping jeff. It shall be mine.


We come through Columbus roughly twice a year, it's my home. (I love Maryland, but Ohio's my roots.) Kahiki was 'my' Tiki home. And we're OVERDUE for an Ohio trip at the moment. (We just barely missed the Hot Rod Hula Hop last time, I can't tell you how much we were SUPPOSED to be there.)

So, a central Ohio trip cometh- it's just a matter of when. Once we get some dates set, I'll post an Ohio trip thread in events.

You have to understand, I thought I had enjoyed my last smoking eruption (has ANYONE other than the Kahiki ever served them? what's the history of the drink? Time to move over to the drink forum...) News like this thread has got me to the edge of tears of joy!

I'm dying to see even photographs of a drink menu or dinner menu to compare with Kahiki's.

If I could teleport out for drinks tonight, I would!


On 2006-03-13 12:51, Sabina wrote:

So, a central Ohio trip cometh- it's just a matter of when.

Well... might I suggest including August 18th and 19th in your trip?

I am sure that if you are here then that we can arrange plenty of tikified activities for you.

There will be parties and informal home bar tours, visits to Liu Pon Xi and Tropical Bistro for cocktails and food, trips to the Kahiki outlet...

Oh, and uh... there's this little thing called the Hot Rod Hula Hop going on that weekend too. -grin-


Chairs from the kahiki.....$15.00

Table lamp....$40.00

Table from the original kahiki to tie it all together.

This table is one solid piece of monkey pod! Very heavy!


Skip you got it!!!! That is so freakin' cool. The whole set up looks great!! Good job!! What picture did you trade for it? Are they going to hang it up at the Bistro? You have got to be happier than a mo fo!

Cheers and Mahalo,

Everyone is welcome to come out to the Tropical Bistro tonight! Tiki celebrity tikibars aka/ James Teitelbaum will be stopping by around 7 PM for a couple Mai Tai's. Lots of fellow Moai's as well from the Fraternal Order of Moai's. Oh yes, the rum will flow!

Cheers and Mahalo,

[ Edited by: tikiskip 2012-07-10 13:41 ]

[ Edited by: tikiskip 2012-07-10 13:42 ]

Thanks for posting the pics skip! What a great time last night when you weren't slipping on black ice all night. I wiped out and James fell too right by my house, ouch! Everyone survived though. A BIG tiki thanks to everyone who showed up last night. It was a great time!!


You must remember that you "slipped and fell" on the ever so slick carpet in brads bar as well! Must have been somthing in the water.

Yeah, for some reason I had a hard time standing up that night. Must have been a mixture of alchohol and antibiotics that did it I guess. Oh well, what a blast! Ahu, James and Tikiskip, you guys are the best!

Cheers and Mahalo,

The Tropical Bistro just got front page coverage in today's Columbus Dispatch business section. It's a really nice write up and even includes a couple pictures too. If they post this on their website I will be sure to post a link.

Cheers and Mahalo,


I just got an email from Otto's tikinews about this place. Its looks to be coming up roses for this place.

It is definitely a "must stop" if anyone is heading through Ohio and wants a small taste of the Kahiki. Hopefully they can get the 2 giant Moai that use to be at the entrance of the Kahiki for this place. Not sure what the fire rules are for the city of Hilliard for flaming Moai's?

Cheers and Mahalo,

I dunno...maybe I'm missing something....saw jeff's pics on the previous page and gotta say, this place looks absolutely horrific!! like some suburban nightmare come to life, which suprises me knowing that the kahiki folk had some hand in this...you would think that this place would have been dialed in alittle more but it can't decide what it wants to be...It looks like a cheap chinese bazzar(?)....boy, you know we are seriously starving for good tiki here in the midwest when we start cooing about half-baked places like this....I'm sorry, but this particular emperror has no clothes....i gotta give it 2 thumbs down on looks alone....sadly, it seems these people wouldn't know a tiki if it came walking into this dump on fire....

Jeff, Skip, and Ahu (and the rest)

Thanks for showing me a good time after my near-death experience on I-70.

I'd say it was a hair-raising occurance, but as you can see, I no longer have any.

This was not a direct result of the wreck, by the way.

John and Barb's place is AMAZING, the Bistro was fun, I'd love to see HRHH at Largo's, and the contents of Jeff's basement is mind blowing...

Thanks also for the pics...

I am sorry Tipsy McStagger but I have to give YOU two thumbs down for giving a review on a place you have never stepped foot in. The decorations are half Mark Pi's and half Kahiki. The pictures really don't show you anything except who was there. Until you actually experience this place please keep your two-cents to yourself!!

Cheers and Mahalo,


What a GREAT time!!! Let us know next time you are in town. It was a real blast!!!

Cheers and Mahalo,

On 2006-03-29 10:32, Tipsy McStagger wrote:
sadly, it seems these people wouldn't know a tiki if it came walking into this dump on fire....

...but do you like pie?


Tropical Bistro is not the Kahiki. Not even close. But we like the place because they serve the drinks and the food from the Kahiki, they have a good portion of the kitchen staff from the Kahiki, they own all of the tables and chairs from the Kahiki, and there are a lot of Kahiki artifacts there on display.

It is not a tiki bar. It is a place run by Kahiki fans and ex-employees,and we love them for that.

As for the decor, it is my understanding that they are doing this on a very small budget, and 99% of what is there is left over from the old Mark Pi's restaurant. They just don't have the dough to gut it and grass thatch the place.

So, will I go here and have the pretty hostess gal drop a lei around my neck and bring me a mai tai? Will I drop in and order the Tahitian Mermaid just like they served at the Kahiki?

You bet. The Kahiki was amazing, and anybody trying to keep some of it alive is gonna get my support.



[ Edited by: tikiskip 2012-07-10 13:44 ]

the loss of the kahiki was a major blow to the midwest tiki collective...i totally understand the importance of having a place to go to get your tiki freak-on, especially if your town may be lacking in places to go....i'm just spoiled here in chicago what with 2 vintage tiki bars at my disposal whenever i get the urge to imbibe...however, there was a time, not too long ago, when we would shit ourselves with excitement over finding a place that was remotely tiki, much like the reaction to the bistro...those days are happily over. with the tiki movement gaining momentum over the past few years we've seen alot of new and awesome bars appear on the scene...folks like crazy al and bamboo ben, among others have been putting blood sweat and tears into some of the best new places for a new tiki generation....and the point i was trying to make is that we, as tiki folk, no longer have to be beggars in terms of tiki...this is not the eighties anymore, tiki is plentiful and there are many more places deserving of our support....the whole line about the bistro having no budget is alot of crap...what they have at the bistro is no balls!! everyone knows that with the right creative people on board, any new place can make alittle seem like alot, regardless of how much cash you have to throw at it...the ol' no budget routine is an utter cop-out. yes, i have never set foot in the bistro, nor do i care to...i understand it's not trying to be a tiki bar and all that, but I used to work for a company that designed bars/niteclubs and restuarants and i'll tell you this...these days, half measures are not enough...they never were...if you're going to open a place and expect me to rally behind it you gotta be "bringin' it", you know what I mean?? ....and I think the bistro left it at home....but that's just my spin on it..sorry if I offend but life's rough, folks. I think a discussion deserves many points of view, even if they appear negative, jeff...so in an attitude 100% humor and happy tiki spirits, i say 2 thumbs to you my friend...right up your butt.


I have never been to the Tropical Bistro.

But, at least I am willing to give it a chance.

I have not judged it based on photos and I have not deemed it unworthy simply because it is not someplace over flowing with tiki.

Not having the budget to make it look like the Mai Kai is not a copout.

It is simply good business to start out slow and build a reputation.

Think about Trader Vic.

He didn't have a chain of restaurants overnight, yet here we are still talking about him and his legacy long after he is dead.

This is exactly why I joined Fraternal Order of the Moai.

I am tired of the attitudes and the superiority complexes many have here on TC.

[ Edited by: tiki joe 2006-03-29 20:01 ]

[ Edited by: tiki joe 2006-03-30 19:02 ]


I don't know of a single tiki place that has it all. I won't go into nitpicking what's wrong with each place out there, because it misses the point -- there's a lot of good to be seen, if you keep your eyes peeled for it. But if you're looking for bad, you will always find it.

I will offer up one great example, though. The Tonga Room here in San Francisco seriously rivals the Mai Kai in the looks department. It's stunningly gorgeous. Palapa huts, 15' tikis, a lagoon in the middle complete with rainstorms, a lava-rock backed bar -- it has to be seen to be believed.

But it sucks ass. Seriously, we have a terrible time there. The food is terrible, the drinks are terrible, the service is atrocious. We happily go there with visitors from out of town, because everyone should see it at least once, and because it doesn't feel right to totally turn our backs on a place that has so much history, and so much potential. But between parking, one drink for each of us, and the cover charge, Hanford and I spent $60 there a couple weeks ago. That's $30 per drink. Crappy drinks. And we didn't get to keep the mug. We just can't afford that. So instead, we go to a tiki bar (SF Trader Vic's) that is downright boring in the decor department. We go there weekly, because we get good service, good drinks, and it's friendly.

No place is perfect, but if you're able to enjoy a great night out with friends in a friendly environment, you're ahead of the game. Add in great food & great drinks, and you're flying high. Yeah, the pictures look less than exciting, but there's something to be said for not throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Keep coming back, and it sends the message to the owners that more tiki = more customers.


Tipsy's assesment and opinions on this place have a lot of validity, but I also think that he is missing one important thing, something that Jeff, Matt, Skip, and the rest of the Columbus ohana (and me) have seen first hand: 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.

I agree that the decor pretty much tanks (monkey pod tables rescued from Kahiki non withstanding), and that Tiki or not, modern restaurants need to separate themselves from the pack, but come on - these Ohio boys are in dire need of quality cocktails, and Bistro delivers.

And the food is pretty good too.

More power to 'em.

Compare this to Humu's post above about Tonga Room - which I agree with 100% - she (and I) says that the place is a miracle to view, but the food, drinks, and service all suck. At Bistro, the food, drinks, and service are all great.

So the atmosphere is bland at Bistro... you can't have it all.
Not anymore....

Hey Tipsy (in the spirit of the same sort of jest you directed towards Jeff), I remember a great LOOKING Neo-Tiki bar in Chicago that looked AWESOME (and was desinged by who... oh, yeah, YOU) but it served shitty drinks, and played Aerosmith tunes for sloshed yuppies. How long did it last? 18 months? I never thought I'd say this, but maybe the decor isn't always everything....

you're right..good service, good food and good drink definately count for something....as for rock-a-tiki, you and I both know what a tool the owner of that place was...that place tanked because of poor service, overpriced drinks and general lack of the right attitude on the owners part.......All of these elements are important and need to be present in order for it to work. .... I won't bore these fine folk with the details of the places demise...also, you're right in that if the bistro is the best place around to get a decent tropical drink, more power to em'........my concern is not about coping attitude, which was naively summized in an earlier post....my beef is quality versus quantity....yes, you may not be able to "have it all" as you pointed out, but does that mean that we shouldn't try?? do we concede defeat because it's never been done?? do we just accept what's given us and consider ourselves lucky to have it? I'd rather have 10 top notch places to visit than 50 mediocre ones...good drinks or not. it's about the total vibe for me and it encompasses everything involved......short of that, yes, humu, we have to see the good in what's available right now in the places we visit and make the most of it but my fear is that we become too complacent and we, as a tiki culture, start to find ourselves settling for less than we deserve.....we, as a group, rekindled a dying aspect of our pop culture.....alot of us worked long and hard through our own idividual as well as group efforts and participation to see that it survived...I would hate to see us sell it out from under ourselves because we got lazy and settled for less...after all, that's how tiki nearly died the first time around......and on that note, I would like to expand on a famous quote

"the price of freedom (and good tiki establishments) is eternal vigilance"

Oh, I totally hear you about not giving up on the dream, Tipsy. I just think we're better off if we work with what's there, rather than rejecting it outright. There have been some surprising success stories (the Caliente Tropics in Palm Springs, the Alibi in Portland) that have come out of local people who knew the history and cared enough to spend time getting owners excited about the potential of what they've got.

...yeah, working with new owners to help get a place dialed in helps....you're right, there have been some success stories...except didn't the new owners of the tropics now decide they don't like/won't support tiki? or did I miss something? ....the prior owners did a great job of restoring the place though....

On 2006-03-29 22:33, Humuhumu wrote:
Oh, I totally hear you about not giving up on the dream, Tipsy. I just think we're better off if we work with what's there, rather than rejecting it outright. There have been some surprising success stories (the Caliente Tropics in Palm Springs, the Alibi in Portland) that have come out of local people who knew the history and cared enough to spend time getting owners excited about the potential of what they've got.

Thanks Humuhumu. I couldn't have said it better myself!!!!

Cheers and Mahalo,


This is exactly why the Fraternal Order of the Moai was created.

Sorry to derail this slightly, but I should clarify this a bit so people don't get confused..

The FOM was originally formed for a number of reasons that had nothing to do with TC at all. The FOM remains an unrelated entity with it's own purpose and goals, 99.9% of which are completely disimilar to the goals of TC as I understand them. TC is a one stop resource for tiki information, the FOM is a tiki themed fraternal order.

Now, to perhaps restructure what Joe has said in a way that fits with the reasons some of our members have joined our ranks, while still holding true to facts about the FOM:

"This is exactly why I joined the Fraternal Order of Moai."

Not coming down on you here Joe, you are a Fellow Moai and I support you on everything said here, but I want to make sure non-Moai do not form opinions of the Order based on non-facts about our founding.



On 2006-03-29 22:06, Tipsy McStagger wrote:
...it's about the total vibe for me and it encompasses everything involved.

But you canned the place having looked at pictures. Jeff said in his first post how he was taken by the live music and good drinks, etc. and you canned it based on pictures.

...I would hate to see us sell it out from under ourselves because we got lazy and settled for less...after all, that's how tiki nearly died the first time around

It died the first time due to changing tastes mainly. It also suffered even in the day from a great idea being taken and copied, each copy being one step poorer than the original.

Here you have someone saying the drinks are quality and the food is quality and the service is quality and the atmosphere is great and you say you wouldn't fart in the place because of the lack of decor. That just does not add up.

It's not about balls. If you have the money to open a place in an existing building and put decor you alreeady own on the walls, that does not mean you have the money to pay people thousands of dollars to decorate. I don't know where you get that idea. Nor do I understand the notion you have to go balls out to succeed. There are blue plate greasy spoons with zero decor that have been in business for decades.

It just seems like a lot of attitude.

jeff...so in an attitude 100% humor and happy tiki spirits, i say 2 thumbs to you my friend...right up your butt.


Tiki Central - Exception

Oh no.

An error occurred. Site administrators have been notified of the error.