My meal reports from our trip to Los Angeles in June began with the first of two dim sum meals. Here now is my second report, on the first of two sushi meals. In my write-up of our dinner at Sushi Takeda in the winter I’d noted that on our next trip we were unlikely to go out to another expensive sushi dinner, given the escalating prices of omakases at the high end. And we stuck to that sort of resolution on this trip. For one thing, we only went out to sushi lunches, not dinners, and for another, we only ate the set lunch omakase specials at the places we went to. The first of these places is an unheralded restaurant in Gardena, the kind that does not show up on lists of the best sushi bars in Los Angeles: Kanpachi. It was a satisfying lunch anyway.
Gardena—along with neighbouring Torrance—is, as you may know, one of the major Japanese communities of Southern California. The South Bay was for a long time the home of the American headquarters of Toyota, Honda and Nissan and was and is dotted with Japanese restaurants in various genres where employees ate lunch. Of those three companies only Honda remains in the South Bay but the restaurants are still there. Kanpachi—which first opened in 1978, long before any of the region’s temples of sushi—is one of them.
They have two locations. If you’re not paying attention—as we were not—when asking your maps app for directions, you may end up at the location on Artesia Blvd. which is now doing takeout only. The flagship location is just a few minutes away on Western. After a brief drive we ended up there. We entered to find the restaurant seemingly filled with regulars. It is a pleasant space, dominated by a large sushi bar, though there are also tables along the walls. As we had our boys with us we sat at one of the tables.
What we were there for is their lunch omakase special, which is a rousing deal: miso soup, chawanmushi, 14 pieces of nigiri and ice cream, all for $49 (plus tax). The missus and I both got orders of that. The older boy—whose growing interest in sushi is becoming a financial problem—got a different set lunch special which featured 8 pieces of nigiri, three pieces of tuna roll and three pieces of cucumber roll (plus miso souip) for $22. The younger boy got the shrimp tempura starter and a salmon don bowl (which also came with miso soup).
The $22 sushi combo features many of the things you’d expect at that price point: tuna, salmon, yellowtail, albacore, cooked shrimp and tamago/baked egg; it also surprisingly includes ikura/salmon roe and uni/sea urchin. This was the boy’s first time eating some of these things and he enjoyed them all. His brother—whose sushi tastes are not quite as adventurous yet—enjoyed his salmon don but liked his tempura more.
The larger nigiri omakase was likewise enjoyable. The miso soup and chawanmushi were both quite good. I won’t make any large claims for any of the pieces of nigiri but, with a couple of exceptions, everything was more than decent. Only the saba (mackerel) and albacore were below par. The other pieces included tai/snapper, hirame/halibut, kanpachi/amberjack, hamachi/yellowtail, ika/squid, ama ebi/sweet shrimp, sake/salmon, hotate/scallops, ikura, uni and tamago. The omakase normally includes bluefin tuna as well. We asked for it to be left off—I assume the sweet shrimp came in in its place but I am not sure. To end there was a choice of green tea or red bean ice cream. The boys were going to eat the ice cream and they both chose the green tea option.
For a look at the restaurant and what we ate, launch the slideshow below. Scroll down for cost and to see what’s coming next on the food front.
The older boy added on a second piece of shrimp and an order of spicy tuna roll to his combo. With that, tax and tip the total for the four of us came to just about $215. Again, I wouldn’t make very large claims for the sushi—and you should know the nigiri is on the smaller side—but it’s a good deal for what it is. Though I will say that we ate better fish for even less money at Nozomi in Torrance in December. If you had to choose between them I’d recommend Nozomi in a heartbeat but you’re not likely to be unhappy with Kanpachi either if a solid sushi lunch is what you are after. And it goes without saying that it’s quite a lot better than anything in the Twin Cities in terms of variety, quality and value.
Alright, my next Los Angeles meal report will feature Thai food. Before that I’ll have another Big Island report tomorrow and a review of my second dinner at Khaluna in Minneapolis—that’ll be on Tuesday.
Appears the tempura was definitely not frozen pre-battered type. We had tempura at Sakura the other week and it was under-cooked (but at least freshly battered) so that was disappointing. Also, I’ve never found a sushi restaurant in the Twin Cities where they understand when I ask for something gunkan style. Also disappointing. Wish I was there. Today we are trying MOMO in NE.