In the world of high-end hospitality there are roughly three types of culinary options: trendy restaurants, quaint restaurants where service is paramount and concept restaurants where décor, style and originality are at the forefront. Occasionally, and very rarely, there are restaurants that encompass the qualities of all of the aforementioned. In Dubai, the newly opened Kanpai is one of those unique venues.
Conveniently located in the heart of Downtown Dubai in the fashionable Souk Al Bahar, this venue is the epitome of style. There’s a sense of richness in the interior with black marble accents, light grey walls that resemble brushed velvet and unbelievably plush and comfortable chairs. Handcrafted, larger-than-life samurai statues take centre stage – a homage to the restaurant’s namesake – some lining the entrance to the restaurant and some standing alone watching over diners. While today kanpai usually means ‘cheers’ in Japanese, it was previously a name associated with a victorious tea ceremony served to the samurai warriors on their return home.
Note to the indecisive: beware. So versatile and varied is the menu that you will be agonising over what to order. Our recommendation is to just go for it, order a few dishes and share – it’d be shame not to experience the festival of flavours on offer.
For starters opt for the spicy edamame alongside the muramatsu (beef skewers in teriyaki sauce and wasabi) and the mini crab cakes – don’t let their cute size fool you, they make a big impact on the taste buds.
The sushi selection takes over two pages alone so we advise trying the platter, which will give you a sample of most of what’s on offer.
When it comes to mains you can’t go wrong with the chef’s specialties. The Emperor Itoku (wok-fried tiger prawns, mussels, scallops and squid tossed in a sambal chilli sauce) is a seafood lover’s dream, while a taste of the famous black cod proves why it’s so renowned.
Sides range from stir-fried vegetables to fried rice and soba noodles. A huge appetite is a prerequisite here, but save room for the dessert. The mango sticky rice is not only a delight for the palate but also the eye, served like mini sushi rolls. The signature tiramisu with a Japanese twist is certainly worth a try. What’s the twist? Green tea!
High-end food, impressive drinks menu, chic setting and a gorgeous crowd, who venture to the bar where an even more sleek evening awaits.
A trendy night out at affordable prices. The generous set menus start from Dhs199.
Kanpai, Souk Al Bahar (04) 4419262