These past two weeks have seen people walking by peering into the windows of Kai Japanese Roots as the new restaurant neared completion as if they had stumbled upon the unexpected. Gazing and pointing out Kai’s most elegant features, the assortment of Edison lights selectively placed over handcrafted Japanese cedar tables adorned with traditional iron cast teapots, wooden water cups and wooden chopstick place sets, lotus napkins and delicate Japanese miniature orchids.
Seemingly, they like the rest of Downtown have been taking mental notes to remind themselves to be the first to visit once the new addition to Broadway opening to the public. This new realm of Japanese whiskeys and malts, shōchū spirits, sushi, sashimi and signature dishes, separated from Broadway by an outside dining patio and tempered glass, is a page right out of the dream book for Councilmember Jose Huizar who has been spearheading the Bring Back Broadway initiative since 2009 and is also a welcomed addition to the Spring Arcade which has become just that more promising thanks to Kai’s fresh new charisma.
Owners are brothers Bobby and Benjamin Davidson with the support of father Bijan, who has been bringing his two sons to downtown since they were of preschool age, earning them the title of “Downtown Patriots” and allowing them to give back to the community they have been very much a part of for so many years.
When Ben and Bobby set out to create a Japanese restaurant 2 years ago they had already been successful business partners long into adulthood. Taking on and creating successful nearby storefronts for decades, now the brothers would hand craft something not only authentic to Japanese cuisine and aesthetics but equally rooted in Downtown’s historically rich environment. The two even traveled to Japan in order to research the proper methods and techniques to ensure KAI would not just be another run of the mill “sushi bar.”
Also on board, restaurateur Kim Gregory, famous for his work coast to coast managing successful restaurants for over 30 years. His quest to oversee the finest of details, from hiring a friendly staff filled with the spirit of hospitality, to creating the dining experience accentuated with an authentic Japanese wine and spirit bar (seen high above the main dining area as a giant cube decorated to resemble Miyamoto Musashi’s Book of Five Rings) with the compliment of downtown’s favorite beers.
Enter executive chef, Miki Fujita, trained and apprenticed in Japan and working for 27 years in Japanese cuisine. Fujita is born and raised in Tokyo, Japan and began his career at 15 years old in the renowned restaurant Sushi Koh in Kameari, Tokyo.
Always committed to exploring new techniques and kitchen skills, Chef Miki Fujita knew he had found his passion. Chef Fujita’s deep pride and enthusiasm for every dish flows through all aspects of Kai’s food menu, which includes Kai’s extensive sushi menu along with signature dishes not limited to Seared Tuna Sashimi & Japanese Salsa, Kai Ceviche, Kai Nachos, and their delightfully delicious Chirashi Burger. It is without a doubt that anyone who tastes Fujita’s dishes will agree, he is by far one of the most skilled sushi chefs of his time.
KAI features an unprecedented experience testifying to the process of rich Japanese culture and traditional values along with new and creative ways to present it, including the tranquility that waterfalls bring, and an enormous semi-transparent onyx slab with a dimly lit recurring light, that acts as if it were the beating heart of the restaurant’s allure.
Kai Japanese Roots is now open standing testament to countless hours of planning and vision to ensure KAI would undoubtedly produce the best tasting sushi downtown has to offer. When asked to elaborate on the motifs and various elements seen at KAI, Ben commented, “Our designs were based on our love for Japanese culture. We want to stay true to the history of Japan’s people.”
Bobby replied, “We want to give back to our community. This important to us. It is important that we honor our commitment to the city which has given us so much and so many opportunities for success. Our guiding principle was to create a space that exemplifies the elegance of honesty and incorporates the vibrant rhythm of our surrounding environment, foremost in cuisine and design. Years of research, months of selection, hours of interviews and a trip to Japan led us to the point where we are proud to present our conception as Kai: Japanese Roots.”
If you’re looking for an all-new experience that will enhance your palette with unbelievable and fresh tasting sushi, then be sure to visit KAI today. You will not be disappointed! Located at 542 S. Broadway Ave., Los Angeles, CA, 90013.