Posts Tagged ‘cheers’

Banzai to Kanpai! – Kanpai Bar & Grill

June 1, 2009

When I hear someone say “Eh, we go bar!” I picture some dark musky room with sweaty old men drinking cheap booze as they throw popcorn at the TV or complain about their nagging wives.

And although there ARE actually places like this, there are several watering holes around town that are working hard to completely wipe that image from your head. The relatively new Kanpai Bar & Grill (opened in September of 2008) off Ward Avenue is one such place.

“Kanpai” is the Japanese word for “cheers,” or to toast, and there’s definitely reason to raise a glass and give a little banzai to this “higher class” bar.

Kanpai Bar & Grill sign
Kanpai Bar & Grill sign

Why “higher class”? For one, they’ve done a number to the interior of what used to be Dixie Grill and Tio’s. Lots of great “dining” style seating (indoor and outdoor), three dart machines, multiple-touch screen game machines, and 11 or so flat screens showing the most current sporting events all complete the ambience. And we didn’t even mention the food. Not your typical popcorn and peanut collection here yo! It’s real, restaurant quality food and it’s off the hook!

Having owners/partners with many years of experience in the fine dining and food and beverage worlds probably has something to do with it.

The husband and wife dynamic duo of Nadya & Bryan Yamasaki has 17 years of Food & Beverage experience under their belts. Combine that with the culinary mastery of Neil Nakasone, Brandon Hamada, John Estrella, and Jensen Hirota (aptly named Quatro Foods) in the kitchen – with experiences at such places as The Pineapple Room by Alan Wong, Halekulani, Ritz Carlton, Ruth’s Chris, and Tokuname – and you’ve got yourself a winning formula for some of the best bar eats in town.

Two of their best sellers are the signature steaks (wafu or kim chee), and the shortrib loco moco.

Wafu Style Ribeye Steak with Kabayaki Braised Mushrooms and Onions, Daikon Oroshi, Garlic Chips, and Ponzu Sauce (12oz - $16, 16oz - $22)
Wafu Style Ribeye Steak with Kabayaki Braised Mushrooms and Onions, Daikon Oroshi, Garlic Chips, and Ponzu Sauce (12oz – $16, 16oz – $22)

Kim Chee Ribeye Steak with Kim Chee and Two Fried Eggs (12oz - $16, 16oz - $22)
Kim Chee Ribeye Steak with Kim Chee and Two Fried Eggs (12oz – $16, 16oz – $22)

Braised Shortrib Loco Moco With Natural Pan Gravy and Two Eggs - $12
Braised Shortrib Loco Moco With Natural Pan Gravy and Two Eggs – $12

Other customer favorites according to Nadya include the garlic soybeans ($7), ahi belly ($10), and something off of their daily specials menu.

Favorites of this writer include the Spicy Garlic Chicken, Pork Chops, and Fried Rice. What’s a good meal without rice right? Right.

Fried Rice with Two Eggs - $8
Fried Rice with Two Eggs – $8

Spicy Garlic Chicken - $8
Spicy Garlic Chicken – $8

Pork Chops with Sauteed Onions - $14
Pork Chops with Sauteed Onions – $14

Oh, and let’s not forget to mention their Saimin and Kalbi Fried Noodles.

Saimin with all the Fixins - $8
Saimin with all the Fixins – $8

Kalbi Fried Noodles - $10
Kalbi Fried Noodles – $10

How does Kanpai pull all of this off in such turbulent economic times?

Nadya explains, “In today’s economy, quality and value are important factors in any business. Providing good food with good value is a challenge that motivates us to meet and satisfy our customer’s expectations.”

This kind of attitude is what sets Kanpai apart from the rest. It also helps to explain the loyal customer base that packs this place on the regular.

So if you’re tired of eating peanuts with sweaty old men, give Kanpai a try the next time someone says “Eh, we go bar!” Your tummy will thank you.

Kanpai Bar & Grill
404 Ward Ave # 100
Honolulu, HI. 96814 (map)
(808) 593-9202
Open 11am to 2am daily


Banzai! Banzai! Banzai!

December 9, 2008

Sorry gang! I tried to work on that wedding recap blog, but quickly realized that it’s gonna take some time for that one. Maybe next week? *blush*

In the meantime, I thought I’d talk about the tradition of “Banzai” at Hawaii weddings, and how ours went over. Four words: HI-LA-RI-OUS!

According to the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii’s web site, the significance of the Banzai toast is as follows:

The word banzai literally means “10,000 years” and is associated with long life. Banzai cheers are given at joyous occasions, banquets and gatherings, to express congratulations, encouragement, or celebration. Traditionally, the participants shout the word “banzai” three times in unison, raising their hands in the air each time.

It is customary to deliver two separate banzai cheers at weddings. The first, “Shinro shimpu, banzai!” means “long life and happiness to the bride and groom.” The second banzai is: “Raihin shoku, banzai!” or, more politely, “Raihin no minasama, banzai!” This banzai cheer means “Long life and happiness to all the guests!” In Hawaii, these wedding banzai cheers are often given as a special toast, with participants raising their glasses with each shout of “banzai!”

In my personal experience, I’ve noticed that the “Shinro Shinpu” one is usually done by a friend, and symbolizes good luck from the guests to the bride and groom. The “Raihin no minasan” one seems to usually be done by a family member and is to the guests.

I sound unsure because when I asked my parents (who are straight from the muthaland mind you) about the history of this tradition, they were baffled. It seems this tradition is not done at weddings in Japan.

So on to our banzai. If I had one tip to offer future to-be-wed peeps, pit two competitive friends against each other. It will make for an interesting challenge to them and an entertaining banzai for all.

One was the brother-in-law, and the other was his (and my) good friend. Before the wedding was even here, they were trash talking to each other as to whose banzai would be better. Following the wedding was no different. They were boasting about their own banzai and how junk the other guy’s one was.

As to who won, it depends on who’s asking. If it’s the BIL, he won. If it’s his/my friend, he won. If they both ask at the same time, it was a tie! 😛

Dave's Banzai Lee's Banzai

Both were hilarious as heck and we were definitely glad we chose them to do our Banzais. Much love to Dave and Lee! “Banzai, Banzai, Banzaaaaaaaaaaiiiiiiiiii!”

Talk to me!
* Any funny banzai stories to share from your wedding or other weddings you’ve been to?
* Anything to add about the banzai tradition?
* Anyone else from Japan who can speak to this tradition in Japanese weddings?
* Ever did a banzai for a friend’s wedding? (this means they think you’re loud BTW 😉 ) How’d it go?
* Did you use the banzai tradition at your wedding?
* Gonna use this at your wedding in the future?