Sunday, June 24, 2007

Kansai Japanese Restaurant in Oakland CA

The SO and I have been very lucky with being able to find great restaurants. The best Japanese sushi that I have tasted is Kansai.

Kansai Restaurant
4345 Telegraph Avenue
Oakland, CA 94609

We have gotten to know the main chef at the restaurant. He studied a total of 12 years in culinary college and apprenticeship. His course curriculum was as follows:

First year: Cooking rice. Japan has many different rice.
Second year: Washing dishes. The apprentice would figure out how dishes make the presentation.
Eight year: Making rolls. Apparently, this started out from the US and went back to Japan. As Japanese chefs learned about it, they innovated. So now, the flow of information is from Japan to the US.
Ninth year: Cooking of meats.
Tenth year: Cooking of fish, includes how to slice and partition different fish.

The chef educated us last night on the different types of sake. The one we had was clean with no after-taste and it went well with all the fusion fish we ordered.

Last night's menu was as follows:
  • Monkfish (liver pate prepared by the chef). Four servings presented with caviar and an edible Japanese flower.
  • Octopus. Marinated in honey and wine to balance the flavor. Cooked in ** minutes. Less than ** minutes, too tough; more than ** minutes, too chewy.
  • Sea cucumber. Fusion presented with just the right hotness of chile. The texture was amazing. A little tough on the outside. But the balance of flavors was amazing.
  • Salmon. Presented with slices of apple and avocado sandwiching the salmon belly. The balance between the apples and avocado was extraordinary! The chef's inspiration was guacamole.
  • Teriyaki chicken. Yes, I got hungry eyes. I figure, I better fill up with ordinary fair or the bill would get out of hand.
  • Tuna and White Tuna sashimi style. The soy sauce used was so right on that I never made my own soy sauce wasabe mix.
  • Tamago. This alone is worth the trip to Kansai. Taste tamago like it should. The chef balances it out with three to four different types of honey. Perfection!

Kansai is not cheap. But then again, good food never is. The bill last night for two people was $120. I tipped $30 because of all the extras the chef gave.

In comparison of prices, Morimoto, the Iron Chef is at least triple or quadruple the price. But, I would wager that in a taste test, the Kansai chef would beat him. Their lineage is the same in that both had the same teacher. Morimoto was an earlier student. So for a cheaper price, you get to see real fusion cuisine at its best in the West Coast.

The chef told the story of how he dined at one of Morimoto's restaurants. He paid $450 without the tip. But he liked the fresh fish.

So if you are in the Oakland area, visit Kansai Restaurant and spread the gospel of good eating!

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