Izakaya Kanpai opened relatively recently in the Kearny Mesa area. One of my friends told me about it a while back, and we went to check it out before our Taiwan trip last month.
Izakaya Kanpai is located on Clairemont Mesa Blvd, just west of I-805. We don’t usually frequent this plaza, so I didn’t notice this restaurant opening.
We decided to order a few appetizers to share:
We noticed that there was a “Happy Hour everyday open-close” list, which amused me because that meant it was just happy hour… all the time? Anyway, the edamame was only $1 and was a nice little savory snack to munch on while waiting for other food.
There was a sign on the door noting that the geso karaage (fried squid) that day was a $3 special. We were going to order it anyway per our friend’s recommendation, but the special pricing was a pleasant surprise. The squid was crispy and was tender yet maintained a nice “crunch”.
It seems like pork belly buns are the new “in” thing at Japanese restaurants – possibly popularized by Ippudo in NYC? Based on the traditional Taiwanese dish, “gua bao”, they feature a steamed bun cut open like a taco, stuffed with braised pork belly and various toppings. This version had lettuce, mayonnaise, and green onions. It was a bit overstuffed and didn’t look so pretty, but the pork belly was tender and succulent, and the flavors were well-balanced.