This is the final post in my Brentwood sushi restaurant trilogy. As you may remember from my previous posts, there are three sushi restaurants within walking distance to my apartment: The Good, The Bad, and The Trendy. Katsuya is definitely “The Trendy”. Less than a year old, Katsuya attracts the rich, and sometimes famous, of the Westside. It’s always packed with a “see and be seen” crowd, and there is always a line of Bentleys, Mercedes, BMWs, and Porches waiting for the valet. All come to experience Master Sushi Chef Katsuya Uechi’s imaginative creations in an amazing space designed by Phillipe Stark. This is one of my favorite sushi restaurants, great for celebrating special occasions (like my birthday, which is why were there last Friday).
Stark’s design definitely sets the mood even before you walk into Katsuya with the flaming rocks outside on the patio. As soon as you walk into the restaurant, you are greeted by one or two
actresses hostesses, dressed in slimming grey from head to toe. They coolly glance at you while you state your name and time of reservation (don’t plan on arriving without one), then coyly, one will show you to your table. You will either be seated in the main dining room, filled with blond wood and stylish, back-lit photos; or they will take you to the back bar, which has a more cool, blue feeling. It’s the main dining room that houses both the robata grill bar and the sushi bar. Both rooms have a regular bar, where you can grab a drink while you wait for your table. I have dined in both spaces and prefer to sit in the back room - it’s smaller and has a more intimate feel. A final thing worth mentioning about the decor is the tables. They are “stark” white, many with couches, and one that even has a chair carved right out of a tree (not that it’s comfortable, but visually, it’s interesting). I highly suggest looking at the website - the gorgeous pictures will really show you Stark’s design.
While the decor is amazing, it’s the sushi that really shines at Katsuya. There are a few dishes that are truly both unique and delicious. There are also fantastic sake cocktails. Two of my favorites are the Katsuya Fresh, made with cucumber slices, and the Burning Mandarin, which gets it’s name from thin slivers of jalepeno and mandarin vodka. On our most recent visit, I decided to go simple and order a hot house sake. My husband ordered a Japanese beer, of course.
For dinner, we both started with the Miso soup, which was full of seaweed and green onions (good for me, not so good for the husband, who doesn’t like that stuff). Then, we ordered what we have deemed to be the three best things on Katsuya’s menu:
- Spicy Albacore Sashimi with Crispy Onions: The albacore is seared for only a second, and then laid in thin slices on the rectangular plate, generously drizzled with a garlic ponzu sauce, and completely covered with red onions that have been cooked to a sweet, shriveled crisp. This is one of those dishes where you try to not lick the plate at the end.
- Crispy Rice with Spicy Tuna: Four little pillows of rice, which are somehow fried crispy on the outside, but soft and warm on the inside, are topped with an equal amount of spicy tuna, and garnished with a sliver of jalapeno. The spicy tuna is done perfectly - more fish than spicy mayo - but still very flavorful. The rice is somehow sweet with a hint of vinegar. Honestly, I have no idea how they do this. It’s fantastic.
- Creamy Rock Shrimp Tempura Roll: Their regular spicy tuna roll (which is anything but regular) is topped with rock shrimp, which is battered and fried to light, cripsy perfection and then smothered with a warm, spicy, creamy sauce. Need I say more?
We finished the meal with two shrimp tempura handrolls in soypaper (a new tradition?). While we had a great meal, I couldn’t help feeling that we just didn’t order enough in the eyes of our waitress. She seemed mildly frustrated with us the entire time, and acted as if she couldn’t wait to get us out so some high rollers could come in. I know most people probably order twice as much food and drink as us, but I really did not appreciate how clear our waitress made that to us. I know this is a common attitude at trendy hot spots around LA, and I also know that the group of three twelve-year-old boys that came in after us probably ate us under the table. But seriously, we should not be made to feel that we are cheap. Particularly when we ordered two handrolls at $12 each (!!). I mean, it’s not like we asked to split a salad and then left.
Other than the judgmental wait staff, my husband and I had a fantastic time. The food was amazing, the people watching was entertaining, and the conversation was flowing. It was a great way to kick off my birthday weekend.
Katsuya is located at 11777 San Vicente Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90049
Phone: (310) 207-8744