Best New Restaurants 2023: Kai Blossoms in Huntington Beach

Enjoy premium Asian fusion dishes and cocktails in one of Kai’s many rooms, from a sunset-view patio to an omakase ”speakeasy”.


21058 E. Pacific Coast Highway, Huntington Beach, 657-259-0010

Pacific City’s Kai, the ambitious venture from the Wild Thyme Group behind Shorebird, is a choose-your-own adventure with multiple rooms, mindsets, and menus. Canopied with cherry blossoms, the main black-on-black dining room is option one, but don’t overlook the yakitori bar, the 16-seat sushi bar in a private alcove, the sunset-view patio, or the Whiskey Room, an omakase “speakeasy” for intimate parties. Executive chef Tin Nguyen’s dishes are more Asian fusion than Japanese, despite his affinity for premium nigiri. The dinner menu covers a lot of ground, from gyoza to robata to buttery miso black cod. Think juicy wagyu meatballs in a petite iron skillet, or luscious watermelon salad boosted by lime salt, nubbins of pork belly, and yuzu kosho. Yes, you can get Shorebird’s popular Balboa roll here, but the Hashbrown is the darling cut roll of Kai. Its ingredients read like a hot mess, but the kitchen works magic with crispy potatoes, tuna, blue crab, and cream cheese for a harmonious marvel of textures and temperatures. Spring brunch on the patio appeals for chicken katsu Benedict with sesame hollandaise or fluffy ricotta pancakes. Modern cocktails by bar director Topher Bray are a tad whimsical but consistently executed. For spirits minimalists, there’s a dazzling selection of Japanese whisky.

Photograph by Emily J. Davis

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