Had a very good experience at Kanpachi Sushi a few days ago. I wanted to take the parents out for sushi, and my father chose Kanpachi as it's been well publicized in the local Japanese press, and he wanted to give it a try. There are three sushi chefs, the man in the middle is in charge, but I noticed that he barely spoke during the couple hours we were there, but he has that intense expert gaze as he observes teh customers eating the food, making sure everyone is satisfied. He's obviously the one in charge; there are two others manning the bar, one young chef and the other one, who has the right, friendly and well-experienced look. We sat in front of him. We were immediately served an amuse of shiro ebi (baby white shrimp) in a light soy/citrus. Really silky stuff.
We started out with sashimi of all sorts. The ones that stood out were the sanma (pike mackerel) in a light marinade, suzuki (bass), mirugai (geoduck clam), maguro zuke (marinated tuna). Even though sanma is a widely eaten autumn fish in Japan, sanma sashimi is a rarity (my parents have never had it as sashimi), especially in the US, so that was a real treat. Suzuki can be a blandish whitefish, but the yuzu/pepper sauce with the fish was the perfect accompaniment. The maguro zuke was seared tataki style, and the marinate was perfectly penetrated into the fish, without interfering with its flavor. Another standout was the octopus sashimi that was served with a salt mixture. The salt is light brown in color and contains kelp and bonito, something they mix and grind themselves.
The sushi was also quite superb. These included uni, unagi, anago, amaebi, torigai (black clam), saba, and toro. But my favorite items were the sanma (pike mackerel), iwashi (sardine), kohada (gizzard shad) and aji (horse mackerel). As you can tell, I'm a fan of oily fish, and this seems to be where Kanpachi shines. While there's something to be said about serving the freshest unadorned pieces of fish, the chefs at Kanpachi seem to be adept at injecting an extra umph of flavor with marinades or a touch of ginger or yuzu/pepper to enhance the flavors of the fish. The chawanmushi was also very good.
1425 West Artesia Blvd.