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Kanbu Sushi Downtown

Tiffany Kim takes her chance to run her own sushi restaurant.

by Micheline Maynard

From the May, 2021 issue

In December 2015, Nick Ma opened Nagomi Sushi Downtown, an offshoot of the original Nagomi Sushi on Plymouth Rd. (Observer, March 2016).

This past December, the lease came up for renewal, giving Ma's cousin, Tiffany Kim, a chance to run her own sushi restaurant.

Although a sign for Nagomi is still attached to the building's west wall, it's now officially Kanbu Sushi Downtown, and Kim has updated the restaurant's logo and menu.

Kanbu, which means "executive" or "leader" in Japanese, is squarely aimed at the tastes of college students, even though there weren't many in Ann Arbor when she took charge. "It was a bad time to start a restaurant," she says, laughing.

But business began picking up in March, when the state allowed restaurants to resume indoor seating at half their previous capacity. "Ever since dining has been at 50 percent [capacity], that's helped us a lot," says Kim, who's been involved in the family restaurants for ten years.

Two menu items allow diners to create their own combinations from a lengthy list of choices. Cupbop, also known as a poke bowl or a donburi, starts with a base of white, sushi, or brown rice, priced at $1.50 to $3. Diners choose from a list of proteins, ranging from fried tofu at $2 to eel or bulgogi (Korean beef) at $5. Next, they add toppings, which range from 75c for most veggies to $2.50 for octopus salad, and their choice of sauces, from sweet chili sauce at 30c to wine sauce for 50c.

Customers can also create custom-made rolls. Like cupbop, these start with a choice of white or brown rice, but then there's a choice of wrapper--the traditional seaweed sheet or edible soybean "paper" in pink, yellow, green, or sesame for $1 more.

There are also traditional sushi rolls, ranging from avocado and cucumber, at $3.50, to spicy tuna and shrimp tempura at $8. Diners can add toppings, such as avocado at $2.50 or cooked shrimp at

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$5, and a sauce, like those available for the bowls.

Kanbu also offers a long list of tortilla-wrapped sushi burritos. In addition to the same ingredients that go into sushi rolls, these can be filled with bibimbap, bulgogi, and three types of katsu--fish, chicken, or pork. They range in price from $12 to $14.

Kanbu's extensive menu also includes a variety of other sushi rolls, sashimi, and Japanese and Korean dishes.

The restaurant won't be the only Liberty St. establishment to bear the Kanbu name. A few doors east, Kim also plans to open a grocery called Kanbu Asian Mart.

At press time, she was waiting for shelves to arrive, as well as a license from the state. "It's coming soon," she says of the store.

Kanbu Sushi Downtown, 241 E. Liberty, (734) 369-3272. Daily 11 a.m- 8:30 p.m.     (end of article)

[Originally published in May, 2021.]


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