Chirashi, Ikura, and Eel... oh my! | Kanpai Sushi LA

by - 1:22 PM

I've realized something about myself and my love of the chirashi.

Chirashi, or sometimes called chirashizushi, is basically a big ole bowl of sushi rice mixed or topped with a variety of fish, vegetables, and other assortments of ingredients. The word 'chirashi' in Japanese means 'scattered' and what goes into it can be both varied and versatile.  

As a dish, it takes little preparation, unlike sushi rolls or nigiri, but always comes out as a stunning presentation. The rice generally should have a touch more vinegar than normal sushi rice, but that's not a hard and fast rule. It's also normally topped with giant pieces of fresh sushi-quality sashimi. 

NOW. Onto me. Whenever we scour the resto recs for sushi joints, especially for our girl's night out dinners - my ultimate go-to is looking for a solid chirashi option. My friends normally go with nigiri, or sashimi, accented with a few rolls - but for me it's bowl or no go! I'm a sucker for them... and I think I now know why. 

In the movie Ratatouille, there's a sequence of scenes that I reference constantly, that very succinctly and beautifully exemplify exactly how I feel about food. The first is when Remy recognizes his superhero power. It's when Spiderman takes the first leap. Superman flies for the first time. "Gusto was right... each flavor was totally unique, but combine one flavor with another and something new was created "

And then later, when he's trying to teach this same idea to his brother... "Imagine every great taste in the world being combined into infinite combinations. Tastes that no one has tried yet! Discoveries to be made!"

But Brad Bird took those ideas one step further. He used the idea of synesthesia (the term is from the Ancient Greek syn "together", and aisthesis "sensation") to create the ultimate visual and audial representation of not only taste, but tasting something new

It's how painters feel staring at a blank canvas with a world of colors surrounding them. And how I feel when presented with the choice of a myriad of flavorful ingredients all waiting to be combined in various combinations at my whim. That's what a fantastic chirashi bowl feels like to me. It's the palate with which I'll color my taste buds and to me - a perfect chirashi bowl is a thing of pure beauty. 

So I've quested far and wide in LA and there are some seriously amazing contenders... yeah Sushi Gen and Sushi Go 55 - I'm looking at you. You both are truly fantastic options and ones I'll NEVER say no to - but I've recently found a new love! A westside joint (and seriously I'm never a fan of westside fare) stepped up to the plate and offers a great dish... and the thing that pushes me over the edge? Their chirashi is fine. It's good - and standard, but they also pair it with two side bowls, one topped with eel (or if you ask for a swap they have lots of suggestions), and the other... with a beautiful scoop of brine-y, fresh, ready to pop ikura! And they chop up bits and pieces of sashimi to mix in, so it's like this bejeweled surprise bowl of happiness that tastes like fishy fireworks with each and every bite. 

Do yourself a favor and check them out! They just opened a new location in Santa Monica, dangerously close to my work... so you'll probably find me there on many an occasion. 

Kanpai Sushi
2212 Wilshire Boulevard
Santa Monica, CA 90403
(424) 744-8934

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