Located in the Historic Third Ward, Kan Pai restaurant recently opened and occupies the space previously used by Nanakusa. As I entered the restaurant, it was clear to see that the layout from the previous restaurant had not been drastically changed, but there had been many subtle improvements that gave the restaurant a new and fresh feel. The restaurant is located on the north side of Chicago Street between Jefferson Street and Milwaukee Street.
We were initially greeted by not only the hostess, but the bartender and even the chefs at the sushi bar said hello. It was a nice touch and it made it clear that customer service is very important to Kanpai. Every diner that entered the restaurant during our meal received the same warm welcome. From our standpoint, the service was phenomenal. Even though it was a relatively quiet night, we were impressed.
The restaurant does have a nice bar area for people who are interested in a cocktail prior to their meal. There are a couple of large televisions near the bar for those looking to keep an eye on the game. The tall ceilings, impressive woodwork, and bright (but not overpowering) lighting give the bar area a fun, open concept, feel. It is different than the cream city brick that seems to be prevalent in most other restaurants within the third ward.
Also, there is a number of seats at the sushi bar. These looked interesting as diners had the opportunity to watch the three chefs prepare meals throughout the evening. While we were not able to sit at that bar, it looked like something we may try during our next visit. The chefs all seemed friendly and engaging.
As for the menu, it is large and there were a number of items we all wanted to try. Some of the members of our group were relative newcomers to the Sushi scene, so we played it relatively safe.
We tried the Kamikazi, Miami, and Spicy Tuna Maki Rolls. All of which came from the Spicy Maki section of the menu. They were all very impressive. The Miami Maki Roll ($16.00) had a nice amount of avocado along with soft shell crab. The Kamikazi ($13.00) was my personal favorite of the spicy Maki rolls. It included, spicy tuna tartare, peppers, salmon, and spicy aioli. Finally the Spicy Tuna Maki roll ($7.00) was simply fresh tuna tartare and a bit of cucumber. Again, all the Maki was great and extremely well prepared.
We also tried the Ahi Tuna Sashimi ($9.00). That was very good. We were a little disappointed that the Otoro (Fatty Tuna) was not in stock, but we were pleased with our entree nonetheless. Everything tasted very fresh.
We had anticipated ordering more rolls, but the serving sizes were large enough that we were all relatively full after our first round. Consequently, we were unable to order dessert either.
It is clear that KanPai is trying to make a name for itself within the Third Ward and throughout Milwaukee. As mentioned, the service and food were great. In our opinion, that is a pretty good start. We recommend giving Kanpai a try.