In Porta Venezia area, in Milan, on January 20, 2018 opens Kanpai, a modern and interesting izakaya. I find it out thanks to the referral of Instagram (as is increasingly the case with new openings). I pre-order and therefore take advantage of it to experiment and see what surprises reserve.
Kanpai is born from a well-built and outlined idea, which takes shape from January 2017. It is an ambitious project that places at the center of the research of its three creators the representation of a contemporary and urban Japan, firmly linked to authenticity through the creation of authentic dishes that wink at the present constantly evolving. The will is to create an international environment, which can well represent the Japanese tradition in its extremely contrasting nature, where past and future come together creating something unique and never trivial. To do this, the creators were inspired by the izakaya, the kind of informal place extremely popular in the Rising Sun where customers can drink saké and Japanese alcohol late at night, eating small traditional dishes.
To be true to these assumptions it was necessary to put a Japanese chef at the head of the kitchen: Jun. Born and raised in Tokyo in the historic Tsukiji fish market district (this is the largest and most famous fish market in the world), after a degree in art, she dedicates herself to cooking (in fact, she worked previously at Gong). With such a varied preparation, Jun is able to create creative dishes, which are really able to break the patterns of a Milan increasingly accustomed to the usual dishes of the Japanese culinary tradition. And what is striking is not only the basic research, fresh ingredients, contrasting flavors, but also the stylistic figure of colors and masterful hanging. The menu she proposes is short, concentrated in a series of dishes that see tradition as a starting point. To mention the karaage (frying boneless chicken legs and marinated ginger), the nasunagi (rice bowl with braised eggplant marinated in their sauce, then baked), the black okonomiyaki (the famous “Osaka pizza” made with cabbage, flour, bacon, squid and squid black) and yakitori yuzukosho (baked chicken with yuzukosho and fried taro).
But research isn’t just about food. The drink list, signed by Samuele Lissoni, is a real ode to Japan. Extremely respectful of the raw material, Samuele Lissoni creates new, inviting cocktails, twists on the unique classics of their kind. His research starts from the history of each label, to give the customer an immersive and complete beverage experience. Favorite cocktails include Road to Tokyo (basil gin, green shiso dry vermouth, pimiento and lime juice), Inemuri 999 (kaffir vodka, lime, chamomile liqueur velvet, ginger sherbet and cucumber), Shisonfire (vodka and shochu with red shiso , yuzu liqueur, pink grapefruit, essential citrus oils, verbena vaporization).
Kanpai is also a reference point for the sought-after list of sakes, which is constantly evolving. A great attention is paid to the news coming from Japan, this to meet the needs of the customers, now particularly prepared and demanding, now newander and full of interest for this increasingly fashionable product.
In addition, there are twenty-five different types of Japanese whiskey and a dedicated space for shochu.
Perfect for an evening with both friends and couples, Kanpai offers a truly modern atmosphere, with spaces sought after by Titian Vudafieri and Claudio Saverino: from the eight-metre counter with a bamboo top, to the lantern room to that of the large mural in white and with built-in monitors created by the artist Gaudio (Alessandro di Vicino). Even the restroom is a unique treat, a tribute to Tokyo’s Yamanote Line.
Update: from 2019, following the renewal of the kitchen brigade, the chef of Kanpai is Masaki Okada.
Compared to the beginning, the prices are confirmed in my opinion too high compared to the quantity and type of dishes served and the service too cold.
There is also the delivery service Kanpai Deli.