Kanno California Style Sushi Bar
3205 Edenborn Ave.
Metairie, LA 70002
Napoleon's Rating: ****/*****
Sometimes the best places are hidden in plain sight, which is the case with Kanno, a serious, excellent, sometimes exquisite sushi bar Kanno stuck in the middle of a strip mall in Fat City.
It's hard to spot outside and not really much to look at inside, being a bit cramped and busy. The best seats in the house are at the sushi bar, though the confines here can be uncomfortable and elbow-knocking close when all seats are full. Try to get one of the two booths in back for more room to operate.
The staff is usually harried but always earnest. The menu covers a lot of unfamiliar territory, and unfortunately the waiters are not the best guides for newcomers trying to figure it out. If you sit at the sushi bar and are the trusting, adventurous sort, you can freely put yourself in the chef's hands. At the tables, though, you're on your own. Fortunately, the quality here is such that you can't make too many wrong turns.
Don't come here for California rolls or Philadelphia rolls. They're on the menu, and they're fine, but this place really specializes in more creative and unique options. In fact, before you order, take some time to analyze the specials on the dry-erase board. You'll find dishes like Dijon tuna, a plate of thick chunks of raw fish dressed in a mixture of ponzu and mustard seeds, or the swordfish sashimi with a veritable salad of green and white onions. The sashimi I've tried always has been exquisite and beautifully presented, and little touches like fresh wasabi root go a long way to setting these plates off. One rare disappointment among the rolls was the filet mignon roll, indeed made with steak, which was too heavily sauced and fell to pieces as a result. I ended up having to just pick it all apart. The chef sometimes puts a Louisiana spin on things without it coming off as "Creole sushi." For instance, there's a soft shell crawfish roll wrapped up in a thin, rice paper wrapper. Even the soup is a standout. Go for the "special spicy miso," which is thick and peppery, loaded with minced garlic with a texture almost like onion soup.
Dessert at a normal sushi bar usually entails a scoop of green tea ice cream, but here there's a different touch. With your check, the waiter delivers a little plate of chilled homemade fudge. Cut into cubes and stuck with toothpicks, it's a memorable and generous little bit of sweet lagniappe.
There's a full bar here - somewhere - though Japanese beer and sake are the standard orders. Sake is served in traditional, box-shaped wooden cups that you at first might have to slurp from.
The prices are in line with the norm of local sushi bars, with simple rolls starting around $4 and specialties moving into the teens. There are also plenty of combination options at lunch or dinner that tend to be good, multi-course deals. Really, depending on how and what you order, this could be a $15 lunch stop for a $60 dinner.
Creative, exacting but not tradition-bound, Kanno is a fun place with a lot to offer, provided you're willing to meet the restaurant half way and overlook its less-than-ideal setting. If service and creature comforts are less important to you than finding original and exuberant food, Kanno will likely join your short-list of favorites.