It was my first time visiting Kai Japanese Roots.
I was sitting in the new sushi restaurant located in the Spring Arcade Building in Downtown Los Angeles and was excited about the dinner that was about to begin. With Gian on the opposite side of the table, we were greeted by the waitress who introduced herself and then handed us menus. She eagerly walked us through the cocktail options and a few of her favorites, and with that it didn’t take long for us to pick a few favorites to begin our night. What other way could the night at such a beautiful restaurant begin than with a few cocktails.
The first of the two cocktails we ordered was the Passion of a Geisha ($11) made of Beefeater 24 Gin. St. Germain, Funkin Passion Fruit, lime, and agave. This was such a clean and refreshing drink. It had a light personality through the delightful ingredients which it was comprised of. The St. Germain was a background of an alcohol while the sweet passion fruit and agave mixed with the tart lime played so passionately together to make the fruit-forward cocktail sweet and lively.
After the Passion of a Geisha was the Eastern Sunrise ($12). This drink took Iwai Japanese Whiskey, cold brew, maple syrup, and matcha cream. From the first glance of the drink it was easy to say that the Easter Sunrise is a beautifully layered cocktail. Taking your eyes away from the drink and placing your lips on the glass you immediately get to embrace the delicious flavor. The cream on top was like a cloud that enclosed an almost perfect combination of ingredients. The matcha powder that was sprinkled atop the creamy cloud was merely a pleasant and vibrant garnish. However once you got through the two and into the blend of the strong whisky, sweet syrup, and energetic cold brew you were presented with a deep and strong cocktail that took you through the dinner in the best way possible.
As we put a hold on the sips of our cocktails, Gian’s Mushroom Miso Soup ($4) arrived. In a discrete wooden bowl was a simple and traditional Japanese miso mixed with wild mushrooms. The hot and plentiful bowl of soup had a lightweight and thin broth while a handful of mushrooms swam throughout. While the soup leaned closer to a saltier side, even for a miso, it was a bit more than I would have liked.
As the spoon of the miso soup was placed down, the branded chopsticks were picked up to grab the Samurai Crunch Roll ($16). The roll contained crispy shrimp tempura, crab and avocado, and was topped with spicy tuna and tempura bits. From the first section of the roll and to the last it was impossible to say that this wasn’t a perfect roll. I loved the smooth tuna that rested on top of the roll and the level of heat that came from the spicy mayo that crept up towards the end. The arrangement of the holy trinity of shrimp tempura, crab, and avocado wrapped within the rice was an effortless combination that made the roll unforgettable.
Clearing every bit of the samurai crunch roll made space for the Cajun Seared Tuna Sashimi and Japanese Salsa ($16). Although it was small in its size, every piece of it was perfect. The sashimi was seasoned with Cajun spices and then topped with a mild Japanese mango kiwi salsa. The immediate reaction you get from this plate is that there’s a energetic flavor that surrounds the sashimi. On its own the tuna was seared so nicely that it held in an elegant and docile texture and taste. However the varying citrus accents from the tomatoes, pepper, and mangoes that comprised to create the salsa were bold and dynamic turning the sashimi into a highly competitive dish amongst the others on the menu.
The final plate of the evening was the Date Night ($15). The mixed sashimi and avocado roll was tempura then baked, and topped with a spicy mayo and accompanied with a side of flames. The blue and orange tint in the fire that sat center of the plate made the Date Night an eye-catching dish. As the waitress carried it from the chefs hands in the kitchen to ours at the table every head at tables around followed with mouths wide open. When it was in front of us flickering from left to right, it was just as captivating as it was described on the menu. Grabbing the oversized roll with my chopsticks and trying it out for myself was exciting. The tempura done upon the roll gave it an incredible texture and crunch. The spicy mayo across it was the perfect creamy spice you could ask to have while the sashimi tucked within it made the entire roll complete. As the last dish to be placed in front of us, it was the best way to end the evening.
Having dinner at Kai Japanese Roots was a great decision. The interior of the restaurant was striking, the staff was friendly, and the food was well-executed. I appreciate the creativity in the cocktails and the unique attributes that differentiated each dish from the other. Kai has managed to design a great menu to fit the tastes of the guests who visit the restaurant for the first time and those who find themselves walking in on a weekly basis.
Address: 542 S Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90013
Phone: (213) 232-4900
Hours: Monday through Thursday – 11:00am to 10:00pm, Friday – 11:00am to 12:00am, Saturday – 5:00pm to 12:00am, and Sunday 11:30am to 5:00pm
Social: Website, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
- Food tastes great
- Friendly staff
- Nice location
- Structure or street parking only