Review: Kanpai Japanese Dining
dinburgh’s Grindlay Street – home of the Lyceum Theatre – has had a welcome touch of sleek modernity added to it recently, thanks to the beautiful, sweeping glass extension at the Usher Hall. Take a little sashay down the street and you will find the stylish, Kanpai Japanese restaurant; sister venue to the popular Sushiya, based in Dalry. Specialising in sushi, sashimi, tempura and a range of grilled dishes, Kanpai is helping to push the standard of Japanese dining in Edinburgh up a notch.
When you step into Kanpai it’s like stepping into a New York sushi lounge, the angular lines, light wood and paired down lighting calls for a zen like calm and hushed tones. That’s not to say that you couldn’t have a grand old time, there’s a private dining area at the back of the venue that seats eight to ten people, and it is the ideal set up for a group of friends to share a tables’ worth of great food, beers, sake and hilarity.
The menu is sushi-centric so if you are not a sushi-aficionado then the best tip is to let yourself go, worry not about your prowess with chopsticks, and simply throw yourself into the experience. The ingredients are ultra-fresh, particularly the fish that is delivered each morning and expertly cut into silky strips of sashimi or as the star ingrendient in the sushi.
To test the prowess of the chef we ordered from most sections of the menu and were presented, firstly, with a bowl of scallop and salmon sashimi that is served on chipped ice, the salmon, shaped like a rose, tasted so clean and instantly healthy that we couldn’t resist the deep fried soft shell crab tempura to counter it. To enliven our taste buds we opted for the spicy tuna nigri and it delivered a beautiful mouthful of raw tuna marinaded in a light chilli heat, this countered the delicate dragon roll that was light but flavourful with avocado, shrimp tempura and cucumber.
Our lunch may not sound filling, but it was, and my dining companion and I were too full to try the grilled dish of Teppan 8oz sirloin, which was a shame as I’d heard wonderful things about this steak dish, served on a traditional Japanese clay pot. Next time I dine at Kanpai I’ll not take a bride-to-be, as clearly I need a companion that can let their trousers split open in an attempt to pay homage to the full menu.
I am looking forward to going back to Kanpai with a group of friends so that we can take over the private dining area, work our way through the menu and enjoy a bottle or two from the wonderful sake menu.
By Lyndsay Anderson