The first shop Kanpai Izakaya opened in 1999. I went to the original Yakiniku shop in Taipei Zhongxiao East in 2002/3 by word of mouth recommendations from Taiwanese friends. Since then, it has expanded into several concepts, including Kanpai Classic.
Kanpai Classic (老乾杯) seemed like a promising Japanese barbecue restaurant. Its Chinese name had the word ganbei (乾杯) in it, which means to “empty your glass.” The establishment boasts a world-class chef who participated as a finalist in the Washoku World Challenge in Tokyo last year.
The sauce the meat had been marinating in when it arrived on our plate was far too saccharine sweet. Not only that, the meat was so fatty that it was difficult to digest. The brisket fared slightly better. It was a bit dry, in contrast to the fatty intercostals, but it was still tender, with the vinegar lending a savory kick. So it was two-for-two for the wagyu, which was a bit disappointing, but at least next time, I’ll know to stick with the dried wagyu beef and the kanpai classic.
This branch of the chain is located in a shopping mall in the city centre and targets a younger crowd. The interior has a neo-Japanese feel to it, with hard wood floors, glass screen doors and moody lighting.
The menu is the same as other branches – prime cuts of Japanese wagyu beef, exclusive Ginjo sake rice wine, Nanatsuboshi rice from Hokkaido, Japan, and an impressive wine list. Private rooms and counter seats are also available.
Probably the tastiest dish we ordered was the boiled scallops. Succulent and chewy with garlicy undertones, it simmered in the escargot butter sauce. The bits of garlic accentuated the aromatic taste and the squeezed lemon added a tangy dimension.
The meal, while decent, wasn’t worth over NT$2,000 a head. That being said, winter is a good time to eat Japanese barbecue, and patrons are better off trying one of the cheaper Kanpai branches where there’s no need to fork out money for frills. As for myself, I think I need to lay off the fatty meat for a bit.
Kanpai Classic 老乾杯
44, Ln 280, Guangfu S Rd, Taipei City (台北市光復南路280巷44號)
Tel : (02) 2751-7388
Date Visited : Oct 2014
Michelin Taipei Guide 2019 Plates
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