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Dec 28, 2006 10:01 PM

Kanpai Sushi in Playa del Rey

A little shoebox space off Lincoln & Manchester called Kanpai is my favorite sushi restaurant ever! It's far better than ANY place I've been in Little Tokyo. I've been to great sushi joints in Little Tokyo, but I still prefer Kanpai. No, it's not going to cost you the $700 Nobu wants, but it's not necessarily cheap. It's got a very laid-back atmosphere. Their sake and beer selection is superb, their chefs are friendly, and their fish is fresh.

If they have it, you must try the live scallop! They tap the shell of the scallop and you can see the muscle contract and then the chef cuts the skirt away from the scallop and slices the scallop into two pieces. It's placed atop a rice loaf and dressed with a dash of yuzu and Japanese sea salt. It's the cleanest tasting sushi item I've ever tasted. But, this is a two-part order. While you're enjoying this incredible taste sensation, they take the leftover trimmings and dice them up, mix in a little Japanese mayo, and cook the shell under the broiler. Just after you've enjoyed the crisp and refreshing first part, you're serve this decadent follow-up.

The way the chefs dress up their individual sashimi servings is killer! Skip the soy/wasabi combo and trust the chef's seasoning. They sometimes dabble in fusion, but stick to the strictly Japanese fare.

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  1. Thanks for the heads-up, as I was wondering about this place. What do they have in their Japanese beer selection other than the standard Asahi/Kirin/Sapporo fare?

    Technically it's in Westchester. 8325 Lincoln Blvd. The nearest hound-ish locale is Alejo's a few businesses down.

    1 Reply
    1. re: nakni

      I forget the name of the beer they have from Korea, but it's very good. Also, they have a few beers from the Hitachino brewery, including Red Owl Rice beer and Nest White Belgian style, which has a profile of melon and mushroom with a delicate aftertaste of cardamom. Totally a Belgian style beer, but not so heavy as a Chimay. And the sake: Of course the $210 bottle is better than your average sake, but for me to justify that cost for sake? I'd rather spend the money on wine. However, if they have any bottles open of a junmai dai ginjo grade sake, I'd get a nice chilled glass of that (~$15). Oh, not to forget, it seems that kanpai was very finicky in picking their shochu, which makes a nice pre- or post-dinner cocktail. Though Westchester is not your typical celebrity spot, I occassionally see a few Lakers in their with their wives or girlfriends and sometimes both. Big woop, I'm a Sonics fan.

      1. we often go here for work lunch, and i find it hard to stray from the negi toro don -- a square box of lots of minced toro on a bed of rice. mmmm.

        1. Live down the street, went once, it was ok...nothing spectacular......gets reallly crowded......maybe I'll give it a second try. did like the ankimo plate.....

          1. I went the other night and I was pretty impressed with Kanpai. The table got omakase, which the server organized as a combination of traditional nigiri (toro, sawara, and ono were particularly good) some of the chef's sashimi inventions (scallop with truffle salt, for example), and a couple of small cooked dishes (wagyu filet with mushrooms, miso black cod).

            Not cheap, but excellent food.

            1 Reply
            1. re: dml

              How much does the omakase cost?