Dining With Denise Neil

Popular west-side restaurant has closed after nine years, but chef will continue to cater

After nine years of serving up some of Wichita’s best sushi, Chef David Kanai and his wife, Mari, have decided to close Kanai at 12111 W. Maple.

Kanai, which originally opened in January 2010, has ended its life as a full-service restaurant. Its last day in business was Saturday.

Instead, the owners plan to offer catering and private chef services, and they’ll also use the restaurant space as a private event venue. They’re also planning monthly chef’s dinners where David Kanai can show off his skills.

Mari Kanai said that the couple was just ready for a change.

“We want to move on to a new chapter of Kanai,” she said. “But I’m going to miss it a lot.”

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Kanai at 12111 W. Maple quietly closed over the weekend. Courtesy photo

The first chef’s dinner will likely be in August, Mari Kanai said, and fans should watch the restaurant’s Facebook and website for updates and reservations.

The couple also is prepared to do lots of different types of catering, Mari said, from party platters to office parties to in-home parties where the chef cooks on-site.

“He wants to display his talent and artistry, and for him to do that, he really wants to select and get the best high quality of ingredients,” Mari said. “He needs to plan ahead, and we couldn’t really plan and operate the restaurant.”

Kanai and his wife originally opened the restaurant with Chris and Penny Ellis and Chris’ brother, Curtis, but the Kanais became the sole owners about five years ago. Chef David Kanai, who was originally born in Kyoto, Japan, is a master sushi chef who had worked in restaurants in Los Angeles and Wichita restaurants before opening Kanai.

It was known for its upscale sushi, its friendly Japanese greeting each time you walked in the door, and Chef Kanai’s inventive Japanese dishes.

Denise Neil has covered restaurants and entertainment since 1997. Her Dining with Denise Facebook page is the go-to place for diners to get information about local restaurants. She’s a regular judge at local food competitions and speaks to groups all over Wichita about dining.