I don’t think a gastronomical adventure through Los Angeles is complete without a visit to one of its sushi restaurants, some of which are the most recognized Japanese restaurants in the country. Chef’s like Urasawa, who is one of the few stateside chefs licensed to serve authentic blowfish (Fugu), is an incredibly talented sushi chef known to many, and has one of the most expensive restaurants in Los Angeles. Not only does he serve beluga caviar, but 24 karat gold flakes as well. If you’re a fan of Nobu, then you’ll be please to know that chef Matsuhisa’s first American restaurant is in Beverly Hills. Then there’s Katsuya, which is one of the trendiest spots in Hollywood, having plenty of paparazzi outdoors waiting to snap shots of celebrity patrons on any given evening. Katsuya became quite popular, expanding beyond Hollywood, spawning locations in Glendale and Brentwood, and in early 2012 Katsuya will be opening a restaurant in Houston, as well as one in South Beach.
I’m guessing that celebrities don’t arrive in limousines, because when my car pulled up, a group of kids with cameras impetuously advanced into position, which was funny seeing the look of disappointment on their face when the realized that I wasn’t Justin Bieber. I made my way into the restaurant and was truly taken aback; the place was lively, funky, and had a very sceney young crowd that included several hipsters. The place has a vibrant nightlife that easily attracts a partying crowd.
I was seated in one of the best areas of the restaurant, and received the menu quickly. The great thing about the menu is that not only are there tons of choices, it is quite elaborate by revealing the chef’s signature dishes which made it a lot easier for me to know what to order.
The appetizers began with a nicely presented dish of crab and mozzarella cheese tempura with a light sake soy sauce in the middle. The dish tasted great, even though I would have appreciated less cheese and more crab. I would definitely recommend only having a few of these as they are incredibly heavy and will fill you up very quickly.
The dish that you see beside the crab tempura was what people regard as the most flavorful item on the menu and it really is; crispy rice with spicy tuna. The funny thing about it is that the title is so simple, but the flavors are so incredibly deep and complex, and this is why it is the most popular dish at the restaurant and happens to be what chef Katsuya is known for. This could have possibly been the best Japenese appetizer that I’ve had. There is a variety of textures and temperatures between the crispy rice and the tuna, as well as that little kick from the slice of Jalepeno. The four rolls were gone way too fast but the memory will last forever.
Then came the Yellowtail Sashimi, which consisted of fresh yellowtail topped with Jalepenos, and served in a ponzu sauce. Ponzu is a citrus-based sauce with a very thin and watery consistency, and a tart taste. This was definitely a light and refreshing dish of little uplifting bites of fresh fish, but it wasn’t my favorite. The crispy rice and spicy tuna dish is very difficult to upstage, and you need something that’s incredibly impressive as a follow-up and I felt that this wasn’t because of an overly tart taste, though I did like it to a certain extent.
I decided to ask the waiter which Japanese beers they offered, and then ordered Hitachino White Ale, not knowing anything about it but just because it sounded good. I would have appreciated the waiter explaining that it was a twenty dollar beer, which, up to date, is the most expensive beer I ever ordered. It was almost a liter of beer, which made me feel slightly better about paying twenty dollars for it. I could instantly tell it was a wheat beer, because of that heavy wheat and malty taste along with a uniquely sweet aroma. I also noticed a depth of citrus which lasted beyond each sip. Though it was a pretty decent ale, I wouldn’t pay close to twenty dollars for it if I had a heads up.
Then came the rolls. To get a good variety, I ordered the specialty rainbow roll: the chef’s best assorted sashimi and avocado on top of a traditional California roll. Although expensive (7 rolls for 18.50) they were bites of pure bliss, ranging from salmon, to tuna and even halibut on the outer layer. Each roll was extremely impressive and definitely worth the money.
The last dish to come out was something I never had before; rock shrimp tempura on top of sushi rolls. The dynamite sauce on top of the shrimp was heavy but exquisite, and combining it to rice rolls had a similar effect on my palate that came from the crispy rice and tuna appetizer. This incredibly rich but satisfying dish was a wonderful closer to the evening.
Katsuya left quite an impression on me. They serve only the freshest fish daily, and their signature dishes are hard to compete against. Though I found that my meal wasn’t as flawless and mind blowing as the one I had at Morimoto in New York a couple of months earlier, it was still an excellent experience to have on my last night in Los Angeles.
6300 Hollywood Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90028 T:(323) 871-8777
JarredReviews is my personal weblog. The opinions and experiences represent my own. If you read that I didn’t particularly enjoy a meal or restaurant, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t try it and see for yourself. Restaurants can have an off day, people make mistakes, we’re all human. My writing is mainly so that you can find out about great restaurants that you may have not heard about, and also to give you an idea of what I enjoyed that you can experience for yourself. Food reviewing is very subjective and you must take this into account and use your discretion when reading any review; If I have had a bad experience somewhere, do not let that stop you to try the restaurant for yourself.