Last night, I had the opportunity to try a (relatively) new restaurant, courtesy of a Milwaukee Foodies fundraiser. The benefit was for Youthaiti, an organization focused on projects of ecological sanitation that is helping the rural people of Haiti with things like hygiene projects and sustainable agriculture. Good food and a good cause–how’s that for a great night!
Our host for the evening was Kanpai, a local sushi establishment whose name derives from the traditional Japanese toast–think Cheers! Opened in 2012, it is located in Milwaukee’s historic third ward–a perfect spot for an innovative restaurant offering Japanese fusion cuisine.
The event began at 5:30, just in time to start the evening with a couple of happy hour drink specials. We decided to indulge in the large-for-the-price-of-a-small Sapporo beer and one of their more unique offerings–sake spiked martinis. Ginger lover that I am I was delighted to find a Gingertini, while the other couple at our table tried a pear-flavored version. Both were delicious and looking around the room, the martinis and Japanese beer were a broad hit.
Kanpai’s extensive menu features traditional sushi and sashimi along with classic and unique maki combinations and an impressive list of tapas; our generous samples focused on the creative. Just think along the lines of… if I were a sushi chef, what distinctive ingredients would I add to my rolls?
When I saw the beef and jalapeno combination, I admit to pausing for a minute. In the end, I thought why not–I love the kick in spicy tuna rolls! A chunk of mushroom was another novelty and both my husband and the other couple commented how surprised they were that it worked so well. In the end, we were totally won over to the fresh and flavorful new combinations that still retained the essence of sushi.
Small plates are the specialty at Kanpei, which makes perfect sense given the variety offered by their menu . Of course if you are seriously hungry there are a number of combo dishes including the impressive “Love Boat” which a neighboring table indulged in.
My husband works about a mile from Kanpai and at the end of the evening I leaned over to him and said, “I’m picking you up for happy hour one of these days.”
I may even need to look for the old sushi kit and try a few of my own… Any home sushi makers out there, feel free to advise!