Dining With Denise Neil

Kanai restaurant, a west-side favorite, is making big changes

Chef David Kanai and his wife, Mari, are making some changes at their 7-year-old restaurant.
Chef David Kanai and his wife, Mari, are making some changes at their 7-year-old restaurant. The Wichita Eagle

Kanai, the popular sushi restaurant at 12111 W. Maple, has been in business for seven years, notes co-owner Mari Kanai, and during that time, much has changed.

The biggest change: Wichita has become overrun with sushi restaurants.

So to set their restaurant apart and to court new customers, Mari and her husband, master sushi chef David Kanai, have made some changes.

During the week, which for the restaurant is Tuesdays through Thursdays, Kanai will switch to a more casual approach, Mari said. The massive sushi menu will be pared down to about 15 favorite sushi rolls, a few appetizers and a new offering – traditional Japanese rice bowls, which are composed of rice topped with spicy chicken, beef or Japanese-style curry and vegetables. The bar will be limited to wine and beer.

Then, on Fridays and Saturdays, the restaurant will operate as it always has, offering its big menu of sushi specialties and a full bar.

“So far, we have lots of sushi lovers and Kanai lovers,” Mari said. “We’re trying to get meat eaters and let them know, ‘Hey, we have this option, too.’”

The changes have already been put in place, Mari said, but she is seeing how it all works and making changes when necessary.

“We have a huge menu, and people get confused, anyway,” she said. “We’re trying to be more friendly and more casual so new people can try us and even our Kanai customers can try something new.”

Kanai’s hours are 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays and 5 to 9:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.

For more information, call 316-719-2929.

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