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Katsuya: Birthday Dinner in H-wood

Posted by Shannon on 03/20/2011

In honor of Miss Christina’s birthday, six of us got dressed up (or “gussied” up in my Dad’s words) for dinner downtown at Katsuya. Amazingly, none of us had ever eaten here before. After nearly three years living in L.A., I was ready!

Let's do this, bring it on.

Each person perused the menu and selected a dish. I was hungry, so was Eric. He ordered three entrees, as did I. His were three sushi rolls (shrimp, cali, philly), which you can just see in the picture below. I knew I wanted the star of the menu – the black miso cod, as well as uni sashimi (to compare to Chaya Venice’s unforgettable version.) I threw in a baked scallop california roll for good measure because I love rolls w/ a non-traditional element like mayo-roe mixture all over the top of it.

Artistically plated trio

First and foremost… black. miso. cod. Started in a pan and finished under a broiler, the black cod fillets are marinated in mirin, white miso, a small amount of sugar.

Delivered on a banana leaf from heaven

The oven-crisped leaf it comes atop fools you.

You believe the fish will be just as dried out; the browned top layer visually feeding into the guise. And then…your chopsticks glide through the 2″ thick piece of miso-infused, umami-mesmerizing seafood.

There was silence from Brad’s corner of the table for a consecutive couple of minutes as the rest of us tried and talked about our food. I looked over and asked if he thought it was as  good as I’d raved about and was happy to see (empty-plate) that he did.

Cucumber sunomono, bean sprouts w/sesame oil and broccoli

Sure, this next one is left out of the consideration-set for many, many diners. But fantastic uni is the culinary version of a friend with the compassion to tell you when you’re eyeliner is too heavy or you have a “ghost in the attic” ( boogie in your nose.) It’s rare, but when you do find, that friend (or uni sashimi) is nothing short of a lifesaver during key times during the year.

Uni in Japanese is sea urchin. Unni in Korean is little sister - my nickname.

So does Katsuya gain supremacy over Chaya Venice’s version? The swagger-status remains safely with Chaya. Their version was just too ice cold, with a softer texture.

Let’s keep focus though folks. Katsuya presents a fairly massive amount of stand-alone, unadulterated sea urchin sashimi… and it works. I didn’t tire of it and ate it all, save for one piece that Brad tried (he’s an adventurous foodie photographer in the making!)

Katsuya uni sashimi, closeup for Will L.

That leads us to the baked scallop california roll…


The roll was good, props for using real crab over the “surimi” or Alaska Pollock fish substitute. At the end of the day, what truly lures me toward rolls like these are the combination of textures and temperatures. The Las Vegas and Spider variations have the same effect, and crack me up because they are so far from the genre of food we go to sushi restaurants for.

A side-note on the hajikami that graced my cod and sushi plates (and all international garnishes for that matter)> I passed on the hajikami, a pickled root served w/ seafood dishes. To me, it’s bitter and crunchy and unappealing. I liken it the fatty sprig of parsley garnishing your New York Strip steak or Denver omelet. Originally (read…centuries ago), these final flairs of chef-tastic expression were thoughtfully included to cleanse the palate or freshen one’s breath post meal. Now-a-days, we have  Listerine strips, Altoids, toothbrushes, and Stride sweet mint gum. Or, you could always eat dessert instead…

Baked creamy scallop/California roll + hajikami

Nonetheless, cool avocado and cucumber thrown around with warmed rice and the mini-bursts of smelt roe mixed into the creamy sauce. If you dip your pieces in soy sauce/wasabi mixture, then you’ve also got the added notes of salt and spiciness to contrast against the sweet of the crab and mayo.

Katsuya Hollywood threw down with the gratis dessert tray to celebrate Christina’s birthday: chocolate lava cake with sesame brittle, vanilla custard puffs drizzled w/ chocolate syrup, lackluster vanilla/strawberry and chocolate mochi,  creme brûlée and fresh fruit. The only chocolate cake topped with shards of brittle surprised me and I liked how sesame seeds round out the flavor of chocolate. The creme brulee was the group favorite, expert torch skills by our chef resulted in a just caramelized & crunchy top layer. Burnt sugar is one way to throw the balance of a perfectly cool/creamy creme brulee. Bravo chef!

Birthday dessert platter

Kelly Osbourne and a crew that included a little person (no not Wee Man) were seated at the table next to us as we were leaving. Marissa was with us (visiting from NYC) so it’s nice Katsuya lived up to its people-watching rep and gave her a story to take back to her friends who asked. Aside from geeking out at Charthouse one time, during my first month living in California, celebs don’t do it for me like they used to ;).


One Response to “Katsuya: Birthday Dinner in H-wood”

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