Year of the Ox is coming and here’s a great Taiwan-style beef BBQ place that originated as an Izakaya that have gone upmarket.
A high-end yakiniku chain in its native Taiwan, Kanpai Classic is probably best known for its extensive marbled beef collection.
Instead of a regular menu, the beef selection of the day came on a magnetic board. A very clever idea because the cuts and variety of beef may differ daily, so it would be difficult to keep track if everything is printed on the menu.
And like all good yakiniku shops, they only use binchotan. The special charcoal burns very well and at a consistent temperature, thereby rendering a very good heat for the BBQ. Just a note, these are most likely made in China binchotan as the technique has been successfully copied, thus bringing down the cost.
The dinner service looked traditional, but they were machine made. The only issue I had was the table top – the dark marble made it difficult to get a good shot of the beef.
Aburi Wagyu Sushi and Deluxe Seafood Gunkan 松露澳洲和牛灸烧寿司 豪华海鲜军舰寿司
First up, a couple of sushi. The deluxe seafood gunkan featured a slice of beef (instead of nori) wrapped around shari and topped with uni and ikura. I was quite disappointed that the aburi wagyu sushi came cold. At least for the aburi, it should not be served cold.
Flaming Red Salad 绯红色拉
The salad had sliced beef, beets and other “red elements” in the mix, topped with a red dressing. Very eclectic mix, but it was actually quite good if it wasn’t so “soupy”.
Double Boiled Asari Clams and Chicken Soup 元盅滋补蛤蜊鸡白汤
Now for the really not Japanese dish, a chicken soup that tasted more Cantonese than Japanese. In the soup was morel mushroom, a minced chicken ball, large asari clam and (what?!?) bean curd.
Special Eight Flavours Beef Carpaccio 特制八香生牛肉
Eight flavours included scallions, minced garlic, fried garlic, chives, pickled plum, sesame seeds, chopped jalapeño and crushed peanuts.
As my guest did not like raw beef, we customised it to use beef that has been blanched to medium. Kind of defeat the purpose of a carpaccio, but this being China you can ask for anything as long you are paying.
Four Cuts of Australian Wagyu 澳洲和牛四种组合
The meat hails from award-winning Australian provider Sher Wagyu (known as Sher Black in Japan) and, unsurprisingly, does not come cheap. And for a full disposition of all the cuts of beef, I have explained them in an earlier post.
“Bamboo Leaf” Brisket 笹肉
Called sasanoha 笹の葉 in Japanese because the cut looked like a bamboo leave, it is a unique cut right above the brisket that let you have the best of both world in the same cut – the brisket and the rib. It has a good beef taste, yet great marbling from the rib so you get a good balance of wagyu perfect for yakiniku. Simply roll it up with chopped scallions and you have a delicious piece of meat.
Blade Steak 板腱肉
Called the kata カタ in Japanese, this is your entry level cut of Wagyu beef. Great marbling is essential, and you can see that this one is a M7+ (equivalent to a A3/4) and not the top grade kata. Nevertheless still makes a great BBQ. Tender and melt in your mouth, if you have the right level of marbling.
Wagyu Sirloin Yakiniku Teriyaki 西冷刷刷烧
The thinly sliced sirloin was flamed quickly on the hot charcoal and then topped with chopped leeks. Then it was rolled up and served. I regretted having the sauce on the brilliant yakiniku. The flavour of the sweet meat was totally overwhelmed by the sauce. All it needed was the raw egg yolk dip.
Daily Special Cut of Beef 本日牛排
Today’s special cut is a M5/6+ Australian Wagyu sirloin. I like this cut as I really is not a giant fan of wagyu. Too much of the good thing can have a reverse effect. But the marbling for this cut was perfect for grilling. Thankfully, we don’t have to do it, the waitress was highly equipped to grill it to a perfect medium rare. And coupled with the grilled garlic from the kitchen, it was perfect and in my opinion, the best meat for the evening.
Grilled Garlic 烤大蒜
This was grilled at the back and came cold. Disappointing.
Wagyu Skirt Steak 厚切横膈膜
The harami ハラミ is a prized cut in yakiniku. Calling it steak is actually not accurate. The Japanese actually considers this piece of red meat just above the diaphragm an offal. Slightly chewy yet fatty, it is perfect for BBQ. I regretted ordering the marinated version – the marinade used in Kanpai was too sweet and too salty to my preference and totally covered the naturally occurring flavours in the beautiful meat.
Wagyu and Uni Tempura 澳洲和牛海胆天妇罗
Marbled wagyu beef and other meaty dishes are the main thing on the menu here, but there are a number of other “luxurious” Japanese dishes to be eaten also. Next up, wagyu and uni tempura. A thin slice of sirloin topped with sea urchin wrapped in aoba (perilla leaf), battered up and fried tempura style. Very laborious, but the result was just ordinary.
Truffle Abalone Chawanmushi 鲍鱼松露茶碗蒸
And for the chawanmushi, the Chinese could not just leave it alone – they had enhanced it with a baby abalone and truffle. The simple steamed egg custard had been given a luxe treatment, and I think they have totally destroyed it.
Chicken Kamameshi 鸡肉釜饭
And for the final main course, we were served with Chicken Kamameshi, which was special method of cooking rice in a metal kettle.
It has a strangely familiar taste to the rice, and my guest quickly pointed out that it tasted like the Singaporean chicken rice. Too bad we were just missing the quintessential chicken rice chilli.
And they had provided a pot of dashi (kelp and bonito stock) to allow you to enjoy another portion as an ochazuke (soaked rice).
Daily Dessert 本日甜点
And the final final course was a small cup of vanilla milk pudding. Very sweet end to a lovely evening of quality beef.
Kanpai Classic Shenzhen
Overall, the beef is top notch and it’s hard to go wrong when selecting a cut from the menu. But this location is a franchise and not directly owned by the group in Taiwan. The original crew from Taipei has since returned back home, the competent local crew has taken over the operation.
With the air of a steakhouse, Kanpai imports all of its steaks from Australia and stores them in a custom-made storage cabinet. They don’t age their beef like they do in Taipei, and I suspect the Chinese have not figured out why you would want to eat beef that’s not fresh anymore. Everything in Chinese cuisine is about freshness. But something you would want to age beef to make it more tender.
The meal was good, the service fantastic, but something was missing from this Taiwan-style yakiniku. The beef was murdered by over marinade and salvaged by perfect cooking. I guess Australian wagyu is still not ready for Japanese yakiniku primetime.
Classic Kanpai 老乾杯深圳平安店
Date Visited : Dec 2020