Santa Barbara > Restaurants > Kampai
Omni Catering

No longer in business
Opened: 2005-11 Closed: 2008-01

4141 State St, Santa Barbara
Phone: (805) 692-0717

  • Category: Japanese
  • Hours: Mon-Fri 11am-2pm, 4:30pm-9pm, Sat 4:30pm-9pm, Sun closed
  • Price: < $10
  • Serving: Lunch & Dinner
  • Map
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Reviews by the General Public

Kampai Will be Missed!, 5/31/2008
Reviewer: River Song from Goleta, CA
My favorite Sushi House will be undergoing a change very soon. The owner is moving out of state for good and the restaurant will change hands. There are plans to maintain the restaurant, but it won't be the same. Kampai, you have been great to us! Hopefully, the friendly staff will remain with us.

Good food, spartan ambience, 3/2/2008
Reviewer: lemonjelly from santa barbara, ca
I am always greeted enthusiastically when I walk through the door, and service is attentive. The food is simple and good. Their combinations have always been filling for me and reasonably priced. For example, the Kampai combination is a roll (choice of California or spicy tuna), a main (choice of chicken teriyaki, spicy chicken or shrimp and vegetable tempura), salad, rice and miso soup, for $10. For the same price, there is also a sushi and roll combination served up on a long thin ceramic platter. The Ozeki combination is a bit more pricey, at $15, but comes with seaweed and cucumber salad, chicken teriyaki and rice, 2 gyoza, 3 large pieces of nigiri sushi and a tempura california roll. It is a lot of food! Kampai is in no way a trendy hip place, it is more a hole-in-the-wall with very simple surroundings. I think some of the tables came from the restaurant that formerly used the space, so they look out of place. The walls, bless them, are adorned with pin-ups of elementary school kids' drawings. If you get confused by the paper wrapper on the chopsticks because it says "Azuma" on them, no worries, Kampai is run by the former owner of Azuma that used to be downtown.

Take Out is Not Good, 3/1/2008
Reviewer: Charles from Goleta
I have been going to Kampai for a year now and they consistently have delicious sushi. However, their take out is below satisfactory it is not fresh and the rolls are poorly made. Therefore, go to Kampai eat the sushi but don't get take out. Also if anyone from Kampai is reading this, please make your take out better. I do not always have time for a sit down dinner yet I love your sushi. Thank you.

Biggest Sushi Rolls in Town , 12/2/2007
Reviewer: Fernando from Santa Barbara
The Sushi rolls are huge! The biggest in town! I particularly like the popcorn salmon. The big portions make up for lack of ambiance and hidden location.

disappointing , 8/28/2007
Reviewer: elle from goleta
After reading the reviews, I decided to try Kampai for the first time. I ordered a couple of rolls--tempura shrimp roll and salmon skin roll--to go. Upon finally opening the container, I was disappointed with the rolls--they were not rolled tight and that made it challenging to eat them with chopsticks, and even with your hands! Also, on my second piece of the salmon skin roll, I had a fish bones. I had a total of six bones, including two the size of a dime, and the others were chopped bones, but were still pretty distinct. Additionally, the bottom of the container was lined with oil because the salmon skin and the tempura shrimp were not drained well. Unfortunately, I will not return. Was hoping for a good experience, but I think I'll stick with my favorites (Goleta Sushi House and Edomasa).

our favorite place, 8/10/2007
Reviewer: Diane from Santa Barbara, CA
My boyfriend and I come here all the time for lunch. The miso soup here is the best in SB and the fish here is always fresh. Also, unlike some places, the price here is reasonable and the service is great! However, I wouldn't come here for a celebration or romantic dinner. This place is small and simple.

Good Restaurant-Will return, 7/15/2007
Reviewer: Carlos Herrera from Santa Maria,CA
I went to Kampai on the suggestion of my dinner date who said it gone there for her birthday and thought it was excellent . She was right. Good food, reasonable prices and excellent service. Dinner for two was under $30 (included two soft drinks)! As reported , the atmosphere is that of a neighborhood hangout with not a lot of atmosphere. But,really, who cares about ambiance when the food is good.

Awful food., 7/4/2007
Reviewer: Min from Santa Barbara, CA
My husband came home and told us about this new Japanese restaurant that he had found. He had eaten lunch there several times. He noticed that the prices had gone up after the first time but thought it was still worthwhile to take our son. What a disappointment. The rice was overcooked. Eel tasted a little spoiled. Teriyaki chicken tasted like it was from a frozen bag. We will never go back.

My favorite place for sushi., 6/9/2007
Reviewer: Kelly from Goleta, CA
I have been going there for about 2 years now and I love it every time. The sushi is amazing because it is fairly priced and the cuts of fish are huge and always fresh. I have never gone anywhere that gave me so much ahi tuna for my money. They have some pretty original rolls. You absolutely HAVE to order the crunchy roll. It's incredible. The service is so friendly and the chef usually comes out to greet us and ask if our sushi was good. Sometimes the servers can be a little slow with the check, but the sushi comes out so fast and it never disappoints. And everyone there is so nice that it's an atmosphere you don't mind lingering in for a little longer. Yum!

Still The Best, 5/8/2007
Reviewer: Edmund from Santa Barbara
I Just read the review below and was astounded at the audacity of this person. I find it very disturbing that someone would be so upset over something so trivial. Regardless of Kampai's new policy on stamp cards, they continue to be the best sushi in Santa Barbara. The below review was obviously written as revenge which says nothing about the quality of food, service, or honesty. Kampai out does Piranha and Kai in quality and price. I have yet to dine at a restaurant with such amazing and friendly service.

Dishonest!, 4/24/2007
Reviewer: KT from Santa Barbara, CA
No more Kampai! I've been a loyal customer of Mr. Sato for a long time - first at Azuma, then Kampai, but not anymore. After a recent dinner, for some unknown reason (greed?), he chose not to honor the restaurant's stamp card. We were promised a complimentary entree after having filled up our stamp card from all the previous dinners. But after this recent dinner, Sato told the waitress to only deduct the price of a small sake ($4) from our tab instead of an entree as promised on the stamp card. Has anyone else experienced this? I have been a long time customer and very cordial with him (and his family when they owned Azuma). As you might guess, I will not go back to Kampai again and highly discourage others from doing so. For others who have the Kampai stamp card, I recommend that you check first to see if he will honor it before ordering anything if you choose to visit the restaurant. Sato should be ashamed of his dishonesty, especially to a customer who has supported his restaurants all these years.

Friday Night, 3/6/2007
Reviewer: Daniel from Santa Barbara
Kampai is absolutely my favorite restaurant! I discovered this little diamond when it first opened on account that I work right upstairs from their location! I can be found there every Friday night and sometimes during the week too. I suggest my own personal combination: green salad, spicy tuna roll with alvocado and cream cheese, a green roll, unfiltered cold sake and a tall Saparro!

makes me smile just to think about the sushi, 2/24/2007
Reviewer: chee from sb, ca
this place is the best!! one of the top sushi experiences of my life. the atmosphere is "elbows-on-the-table" and the servers are super-duper friendly! the waitress was willing to describe the rolls for us, and the sushi chef even made us a riceless roll (and wrapped the roll in cucumber instead)...the fish was super fresh, and kampai offered some innovative rolls as well (i.e., one with a cilantro sauce and another one with doritos!). I am soooo happy that this website exists...otherwise, I would have never found this place! what could be better?

Oh so very nice!, 2/17/2007
Reviewer: Dr. Hosenfosen from Santa Barbara, CA
I could not understand why other reviewers did not want people to come across this hidden gem; they really wanted to keep this treasure to themselves. Let me start by saying that service is usually terrible at restaurants in SB, but it was terrific at Kampai. I think it is family owned and the staff is so friendly, personable, and helpful. The food is really great, the portions are good sized, and the prices are so reasonable. While at Kampai, I saw a lot of repeat customers coming in to get food. It was my first time there tonight, and I will definitely be going back again. PS I think the ambience is just fine.

Great Fresh Sushi, Great Service. Hidden Jem!, 12/17/2006
Reviewer: JB from Goleta
Our first attempt to dine here ended unsuccessfully as it is so hard to find and we left our phones at home. With detailed instructions this time we finally made it! This is no frills sushi at its best! The space is nothing to rave about, tucked away into an office building complex with a basic set up and dry erase boards with all the specials. This is not some trendy, overpriced place to be seen, but a great local's spot to get great sushi without the hype and scene. The service made us feel right at home right away. Very genuine and excellent. The sushi was great. The menu is no frills as well, solid Japanese cuisine, excellent sushi. We ordered a wide variety of rolls and nigiri and all was EXCELLENT. Well presented and generous portions, and of course great flavor. We had an awesome sushi dinner, excellent service, and the bill was very reasonable. The only thing I could see people complain about here is the space/decor (it's your basic next door type of place and far from some trendy yuppie type place) if your idea for the night is a trendy, "classy" high end sort of atmosphere this is not it; but if you're in the mood for great, fresh sushi, friendly prompt service, and a reasonable bill, Kampai is your place. We will be back soon!

Best kept sushi secret in SB, 11/30/2006
Reviewer: Carol Platt from Goleta, CA
We have spent many a lunch here, but until last night never dinner. Dinner was fantastic! The happy hour was great, the food came quickly and it was absolutely delicious ! When we got the bill we were so pleasantly surprised - is there anywhere in SB you can get $5 rolls and a large sake for $4.99 ? The owner is so fun and friendly and the server was great ! We will be returning soon.

Great authentic Japanese food, 11/21/2006
Reviewer: Taryn from Santa Barbara, CA
It's hard to find authentic Japanese restaurants with Japanese cooks and sushi chefs...but if this is something that you are looking it is! The prices are great. I love this place. Best food and best prices.

Kampai: The Real Deal, 11/15/2006
Reviewer: Lia Suzuki from Santa Barbara, CA
The first time I walked in to Sato-san's restaurant, I thought I was back in one of my favorite sushi restaurants in Yokohama. That was his first restaurant, Azuma. His new restaurant Kampai, is no different. It's the real deal - not cliche Japanese, not Americanized Japanese. Having lived in Japan for almost 10 years, I'm very picky about the Japanese restuarants here in the US. I usually want to get my fix of traditional Japanese sushi pieces. What I don't find on Sato-san's English menu, I can ask for personally and he's always happy to whip it up for me. The only thing that's not authentic here is that his portions are bigger than what you find in restaurants in Japan. Always a great dining and social experience.

Always a treat eating here, 10/8/2006
Reviewer: David Hogg from Santa Barbara,CA
Everything I have ordered at Kampai has been excellent. The service is friendly and personable. The waitress even went out of her way to learn our names!

hidden but good, 9/22/2006
Reviewer: Minah from Santa Barbara
The last couple eateries occupying the spot that Kampai have gone out of business because it's such a dead zone, but I really have hopes for this one. Walk in the door and you are enthusiastically greeted. Service is great. The best deal right now is 10 pieces of assorted nigiri for $9.99.

good little hidden gem, 8/9/2006
Reviewer: Vivian from Santa Barbara
this place is really cute and very affortable. i ordered the shrimp tempura roll it was bomb. i am going to go back for sure!!!

great for quick lunch, 5/11/2006
Reviewer: Hajir Sailors from Santa Barbara, CA
This place is great for lunch if you're on the run. I go here 2-3 times a week with a friend. WE only have a 30 minute lunch break at San Marcos High school and we're able to make it to Kampai, order, pay, get the food and make it back in time to eat. For a very reasonable price you can get great sushi. Just today i ordered nigiri tuna and salmon rolls, they were both excellent with a nice slab of tuna on top of the rice, and the salmon in the rolls was great. In the past i've ordered pretty much everything, they're yellowtail (nigiri and roll and sashimi), tuna, Futomaki, etc. I haven't yet tried the rainbow roll, but i'm hoping to have that next time i stop by, though it is a bit more expensive than the yellow tail rolls and salmon rolls which are good. Of course this wouldn't be my choice for sit down sushi. There isn't a bar up front but rather they make sushi in a kitchen. For a sit down meal sushi teri or somethings fishy seems to fit my needs more. But Kampai is a great little sushi place, that is well placed and has great sushi.

Cozy little sushi dining, 4/24/2006
Reviewer: Tina from Goleta, CA
i've been to Kampai twice now and have enjoyed both trips. the service could be a little better, but the employees are extremely kind. food is yummy and the chef even comes out to say hello!

Good food and service, 4/20/2006
Reviewer: Laura from Santa Barbara
My friend suggested we tried this new restaurant, must say I was pleasantly surprised. The prices were very reasonable, our food came fast and service was great. Good casual sushi bar. Laura

Delightful, 4/19/2006
Reviewer: S. M. from Santa Barbara, CA
Ok, so the ambiance needs a little help but the quality of the food and service is more important for our group of hungry girls. No fancy funny overpriced special sauce and small slivers of fish over chunks of rice here. The food has always been delicious, good portions and arriving in timely manners. As for the staff... very attentive, warm and always with genuine smiles. Thank you Sato, we'll be back soon! =)

Enjoyed the food but disappointed with portion size, 3/30/2006
Reviewer: Santa Barbara Dianne from Santa Barbara
I visited this restaurant for the first time today and was reasonably happy with the taste of the spicy tuna roll/hibachi chicen special but shocked at the very tiny portions.I don't know, maybe I have gotten too spoiled with the half-off days at Something's Fishy where they put massive amounts of quality tuna in their rolls for the low price of $3.00 The ambiance of the restaurant needs a little work as it feels a little too thrown together. The service was good and attentive enough. So overall, with a little more consideration for value and upping the quality a bit more, this restaurant has a lot of potential for the business lunch crowd.

Best Japanese Chef in Santa Barbara, 1/28/2006
Reviewer: Maiko from Santa Barbara
Sato-san is the best Japanese chef in the area, we are so glad he has opened this new returaunt (Azuma used to be our favorite). We are often critical of Americanized Japanese food, but Sato does a wonderful job making tasty Japanese dishes and interesting "new" treats. The food is is always tasty and the service is always 100% Japanese (you really feel like the staff care about your happiness and enjoyment). The atmosphere is very casual, it isn't the prettiest or most Japanese looking place around, but the food speaks volumes.

Great little out of the way sushi, 12/24/2005
Reviewer: Nick Garcia from Goleta, ca
I, personally, don't care what a place looks like (except cleanliness) in terms of ambience.. I'm there for the food. The ambience at Kampai is a little industrial with an attempt at appearing like a sushi restaurant, but it reminds me of the smaller low-budget restaurants in Japan. The service is great, and the owner even comes out to greet customers to make sure everything is up to par. The food is fresh, tastes very authentic, and is by far the best value. It's location away from the tourists makes it so it can survive without looking like a tourist attraction - plastic and fake, and the money saved in ambience is put into the quality of the food. It's become my favorite sushi restaurant.

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