Just past Main Street on 114 W. Liberty Street is the Ann Arbor”s best kept secret for the mid-range dining experience. This restaurant, Kana, provides a French-Asian fusion style of cuisine that is unique to all of Ann Arbor.
This culinary style, termed Pacific Rim, is defined by owner/manager YB as “the best of Thai, Vietnamese, Chinese and Korean.” Because of this, Kana exudes a maturity in culinary originality and matches their refreshing flavors with eloquent presentation.
Kana has been open for six years at its present location, but it wasn”t until last February that YB took the necessary steps to evolve the restaurant from Korean-style to Pacific Rim. In doing this, YB has filled Ann Arbor”s void in gourmet Asian-style cuisine. In addition, YB kept the prices reasonably low in order to attract University students and to retain a more consistent clientele. The appetizers are around $6, the gourmet salads are $7 and the entrees range from $12-$18 dollars. Due to the quality of ingredients, accommodating service, cleanliness and friendly management, the Kana experience is well worth the price.
My first meal at Kana had many highlights, all of which have made a returnvisit incredibly desirable. The first of these highlights was the CurriedCrab Cake appetizer, which had a perfect external crisp and came with acilantro-lime dipping sauce that perfectly matched the flavor of the crab.
The next course was a small palate-cleansing salad that is included withthe entrie. Its sweet-soy vinaigrette dressing was a great refresher forthe main course.
Finally, the main courses arrived and the true test began. The dish I had was the duck. This dish came with a tactful presentation of thinly sliced pieces of duck leaning on Chinese broccoli that separated the game from the complementing mashed potatoes. A wine reduction sauce, which took ten hours to prepare, was drizzled over the duck slices to complete this true winner of a dish.
The next dish I had was Pacific Rim Salmon. This dish came with snow peas and red peppers and was topped with a Thai-basil vinaigrette that made for a nice match. The flavors involved were enjoyable, but the one flaw was that the salmon was grilled, drying out the fish and taking away from the texture. Usually, salmon”s natural buttery texture can be brought out more successfully if the fish is marinated and then baked rather than grilled.
The final dish was a lightly seared tuna. This sashimi grade piece of tuna came with chopped lettuce and was topped with a miso-ginger sauce. It is very healthful and was prepared nicely.
All of these entrees were exceptional and each one was unlike any dish I had ever tried in Ann Arbor.
The dessert menu was rather limited as it only consisted of two dishes, but both had plenty of appeal. After a grueling decision-making process, the dessert chosen was a banana sautied in coconut, then fried in a pastry batter into an egg roll-like form, cut in half, placed next to a scoop of ice cream and then surrounded by chocolate syrup. Yes, it was as amazing as it sounds.
After eating at Kana, there is no way to refer to it other than “the best kept secret” in town. All of the dishes were delicious and beautifully presented, the atmosphere was intimate with a subtle Asian feel and the service was above average. The food is quality enough for you to bring your parents there when they come to town and the prices are reasonable enough for students who are either on a date or are simply looking for a great meal.
Pacific Rim cuisine is more prevalent in Hawaii and the southwest, but with the increasing popularization of Asian food in America, it is spreading rapidly throughout the country. Kana”s inventive Pacific Rim dishes and presentation make the restaurant one-of-a-kind in Ann Arbor with its long-awaited evolution of Asian cuisine. With that said, it is now official that the secret is out.