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Dining with Nancy at Kampai

By Nancy Giddens

Fall! I love everything about it—combines clogging alphabet roads, wagons spreading corn along fields, trees changing color, leaves covering the ground, boots being pulled from the back of my closet and outside dining during the year’s best weather. This week was fantastic! I traveled to Columbia for a much needed wardrobe update from my favorite clothier, Elly’s Couture. After prioritizing sweaters, jackets, dresses, jewelry and more, Elly Bethune and I headed out to join our girlfriends, Susan Eubank and Michayah McMillin, at our favorite eatery, Kampai.

Elly Bethune, Susan Eubank and Michayah McMillin. (submitted photo)
Elly Bethune, Susan Eubank and Michayah McMillin. (submitted photo)

Kampai is the best for countless reasons. The food, cocktails, ambience, patio, service and location all combine for a fantastic experience. Granted, I was on a high from the clothes hit I’d just taken and was inordinately excited to see my girls, but Kampai always holds its own. While the restaurant interior is comfortable and inviting, we chose to occupy the patio to enjoy the near-perfect weather. From Kampai’s brussel sprouts (yes, you read that correctly) and sushi, to catching up with my girlfriends in perfect weather, my fall is off to a killer start!

The Place 

Kampai is located in Columbia’s downtown district off Broadway. Situated off the tourist beat at 907 Alley A, Kampai serves a loyal crew of diners each day. Open for lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday and dinner on Sunday, the sushi restaurant offers an incredible selection of soups, salads, rolls and more. Whether you eat downstairs, upstairs or on the patio, the eatery hosts a great vibe that welcomes its patrons to relax and enjoy the experience. Kampai, you never fail us!

The People 

Lindsay Sureck, my friends’ regular server and fellow customer of Elly’s, provided impeccable assistance. Our cocktails and appetizers were served promptly, despite the patio being completely full and Lindsay managing several tables. Our order was taken with precision – the kind of precision that comes from knowing the menu and experiencing its fare. Thank you, Lindsay, for a seamless experience!

The loot from the Kampai visit.
The loot from the Kampai visit.

The Product 

Flavors and freshness make Kampai’s fare nothing short of amazing. From our edamame and brussel sprout starters to our samurai warrior and kampai rolls, we couldn’t ask for more. Elly’s rolls were customized not to include raw fish due to her pregnancy, Michayah’s eel concerns were mitigated, and Susan’s fresh wasabi put the paste version to shame. She was right in saying “fresh wasabi is the bomb dot com.”

The Price

Prices range greatly depending on selections. Smaller, less complicated rolls hover around $5 while larger, more complex rolls increase to $14. If you can swing it, my suggestion is the $14 samurai warrior roll. You will not be disappointed. For a complete list of menu offerings and prices, check out

The Pizzazz

Brussel sprouts. Kampai brussel sprouts are incredible and cannot be described to satisfaction. Sometimes words cannot suffice and this is one of those times for me. Susan introduced me to the delicious selection during one of our earlier visits and I’ve ordered them since. For me, this season definitely will include more girl time, warmer clothes, more outside activity and more Kampai dining. I’m wishing you some Kampai brussel sprouts and fun friends to kick-off your fall, too!