The owner of Menlo Park's Naomi Sushi just opened Kanpai in the former Jidai-ya location in downdown Palo Alto. October 2nd was the official opening day. While it's hard to judge a restaurant right when it opens because they are so eager to please, Kanpai seems to be joining the ranks of Sushi Tomi and Kaygetsu for high quality sushi in the area. I like it better than Sushi-ya which is about two blocks away. The non sushi was also great.
2 bowls miso shiru
2 very large cups of mild and sweet sake
4 pieces ikura
4 pieces uni
2 pieces saba
1 piece toro
broiled miso marinated sea bass
The total was around $80- not cheap but we had some of the more expensive sushi. I'm sorry I can't break it down more, I don't remember the individual prices or the name of the sake.
The sushi was wonderfully sweet and fresh. Ikura was totally different than the super salty, gummy type I find everywhere else. This was much less dyed, very translucent, firm, smaller eggs. Maybe it was a different type of roe? Anyway, it was fantastic. Uni was sweet and held its shape. Saba and toro were both super fresh, very high quality, melting texture.
The amount of rice in each nigiri is much smaller than than what I normally see. We thought it was perfect with the quality of the fish. Wasabi was freshly grated.
My broiled sea bass was not as warm as it should have been since I think they were waiting to bring it out with the tempura. But the balance of flavors was sweet and mild. The tangy green dressing (they called it jalapeno dressing but it really wasn't very spicy) around it cut the oily fish nicely. The tempura was crisp and not oily, and the shrimp were extremely plump.
The remodeling is a very large step up from Jidai-ya. Lovely lighting and relaxing music. The owner, who went through 1 1/2 bottles of sake while we were there was jovial and very proud of the new restaurant. He told us the counters, tables and various other parts were imported from Japan. It's hard to predict if the quality will stay this high when a restaurant is this new, but I highly recommend checking it out if you're in the area!
Menu had an intro paragraph touting the omakase they offer so I'll return soon to try it out.
330 Lytton Avenue
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