Friday, 9 December 2011


Kanpai is Edinburgh’s latest addition to a growing number of Japanese restaurants. Having opened around the same time as Wagamama, it’s the antithesis of their buzzy noodle bar style. With a limited sushi-based menu and cherry blossom trees outside the doors beckoning you inside, it’s an elegantly designed space where you can happily spend a few hours ordering dish after dish of beautifully presented sushi. Situated opposite the Lyceum Theatre where the Stac Polly once was, it is the sister restaurant to Sushiya, based in Haymarket. Sushiya is widely regarded as one of the best Japanese diners in Edinburgh and Kanpai happily lives up to these high expectations.

As mentioned, their menu is not extensive – it’s short but comprehensive, focussing primarily on sushi and sashimi with a small tempura and ‘classics’ menu. There’s still quite a decent variety for sushi lovers and the quality of the fish is outstanding, with fresh fish used from Eddie’s seafood market. Not only that but the rice is perfectly cooked and seasoned Japanese style and the presentation of food is stunning too.

We decided to order a few sushi classics – some nigiri, cucumber maki (£4.20) and a spicy salmon handroll (£4.50), and we decided to ask the waiter for some more interesting options from the classics menu. The waiter recommended deep fried octopus balls (£5.20) and a miso marinated grilled half aubergine (£5.90), and with green tea and an Asahi beer to accompany our meal we were delighted with these choices – everything was fresh and delicious. Particular highlights were the spicy salmon handroll – delicate but with a definite chilli kick to it. The aubergine flesh was sweetly soft and more-ish and the octopus balls had a crispy crunch with a salty chewy centre. Other interesting choices for our next visit would be the sesame chicken wings (£4.90), asparagus and prawn handroll (£4.50), surf clam nigiri (£4.90) and the futo make with Japanese pickle, avocado, sweet egg, cucumber and kampyo (£7.90).  There's also a sashimi platter of 20 pieces (for 2-3 people, £20.90). There’s also a decent choice of wines, beers and sake – only fitting for a restaurant named after the Japanese version of “cheers!”

The only small thing I would change would be the availability of a few varied sushi platters. I would be delighted to have some chefs selections or recommendations on a range of sushi and tempura and I’m sure they would produce something colourful and visually stunning with larger dishes. But that aside, with it’s faultless service and chic surroundings it is perfect how it is – a supremely elegant place to dine on some of Edinburgh’s finest sushi.

8-1 Grindlay Street
Edinburgh EH3 9AS
Tel: 0131 228 1602
Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday 12-14:30, 17:00-22:30

KanPai Sushi on Urbanspoon


Foodiva said...

It's hard to believe how much the restaurant landscape in Edinburgh has changed since I last was there, about 20 years ago! I used to frequent Wagamama's in London but didn't really enjoy the bustling, hurried atmosphere there. Kanpai sounds more like the restaurant for me. Thanks for reviewing it!

Katey said...

Yes, Edinburgh has changed a lot and there are so many exciting places to eat - one of the reasons I love it is there aren't a lot of chain restaurants like London has. Glad you enjoyed the review :-)

Nadia Yates said...

Thank you for your review! It inspired me to visit Kanpai and I definitely wasn't disappointed! So eager to return and try all the other dishes I didn't get the chance to!

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