KATSUYA L.A. LIVE
DELIVERING DELECTABLE DOWNTOWN SUSHI
For years now, master chef Katsuya Uechi, L.A.’s reigning sushi king, has been delivering the most delicious and innovative sushi in town. What started as savory, simple fair with his intimate Katsu-ya restaurants in Studio City and Encino turned into event dining when he teamed up with touted designer Philippe Starck. Their four Katsuya restaurants around town (Brentwood, Hollywood, Glendale, Downtown at L.A. LIVE) are more than just a sushi meal; they’re nights on the town of fine dining.
Katusya’s Hollywood location, on the corner of Hollywood & Vine, is a place to be seen and to star gaze as paparazzi outnumber parking valets. The latest Katsuya is the downtown eatery at the L.A. LIVE complex adjacent to Staples Center. Twice the size of the Hollywood Katsuya, the downtown restaurant also aptly blends traditional Japanese flavors to the American palate.
Walk into the L.A. LIVE Katsuya and your senses are immediately bombarded by the restaurant’s impressive, flashy décor. Note, on concert nights at Staples Center, as well as before Lakers games, it is quite the scene at Katsuya and reservations are strongly encouraged if you’re looking for a pre-event meal.
As with the other Katsuyas, the L.A. LIVE Katsuya only serves fresh, daily fish, meat and vegetables. Signature dishes include Crispy Rice with Spicy Tuna, and Spicy Albacore with Crispy Onions, as well as Kobe Tobanyaki, Miso-marinated Black Cod, and Stripped Baze.
During our recent visit, which found the restaurant packed to capacity by 7:30pm before a concert at Staples Center, we opted to start with Katsuya’s signature appetizer Crispy Rice with Spicy Tuna (often imitated all over town). Excellent choice! We also tried the savory Creamy Rock Shrimp, crispy bite-size rock shrimp tossed in Chef’s spicy creamy sauce.
We paired our starters with the award-winning Burning Mandarin cocktail (Absolut Mardarin Vodka served with hand crushed Serrano chili and freshly squeezed lemon and orange juice highlighted by a dash of cranberry) that offers a very nice, spicy kick. At $14 a drink you may want to keep the cocktails to a minimum but this one really does offer a fine taste and helps give the meal a refreshing flare.
For the entrée, we opted to order one Katsuya Tasting Menu that offers the best signature dishes that Chef Katsuya is world famous for; a very good deal at $65 as you do get a lot of delectable plates. To begin our tasting we started with an order of Hamachi Citrus that is served by the spoonful. Nice presentation and an even better taste. You can already tell you’re in for a good night of quality dining.
Taking our cue from the kitchen chefs, we choose a bottle of their favorite sake, Demon Slayer (and now ours too). With its nice, smooth finish served cold, this sake really does compliment the meal (highly recommended), especially as our second tasting item arrived, the Katsuya Ceviche, a light and refreshing mix of sashimi and citrus ponzu.
An assortment of mini orders of the Creamy Rock Shrimp, Crispy Rice with Spicy Tuna, Spicy Albacore with Crispy Onion (a delicious crunchy twist to albacore sashimi), and Yellowtail Sashimi with Jalapeño (fresh yellowtail, ponzu, and jalapeño; light and refreshing) followed. Even though we had already ordered appetizer portions of the Creamy Rock Shrimp, and Crispy Rice with Spicy Tuna it was nice to revisit them again. Although, you should really opt to save some cash and not order them as appetizers if you’re going to order the Tasting Menu.
At this point our Katsuya Specialty Roll order arrived, this isn’t on the Tasting Menu but it only made sense to try the restaurant’s very own signature roll. Loaded with fresh salmon, yellowtail, tuna, a layer of rice and a cucumber shell, it almost cleanses the palate with its delicious taste. This one is a winner!
We also ordered the 12oz Kobe Ribeye separate from the Tasting Menu, as the yummy Katsuya sampler isn’t really large enough to share and our friendly hostess said it was her personal favorite dish. I’ll admit it; I’m easily led astray when it comes to eating. If you find yourself really hungry, this is a great selection.
Resuming our Kastuya Tasting Menu, it was time for the Miso Marinated Black Cod, a must try! This Katsuya signature uses sweet miso and the special taste of baked black cod to deliver unparalleled flavor.
Also part of the Tasting Menu was the Kobe Filet with Foie Gras. Served with medallions of foie gras on top of tender Kobe beef, it’s smothered in Chef’s plum wine reduction. We were mixed on this one, as it should be noted this dish is definitely an acquired taste.
Next came an assortment of mouthwatering sushi, Salmon, Tuna and Albacore, as well as the delicious Baked Crab Handroll (baked snow crab with a touch of Chef’s signature sauce wrapped with rice in soy paper).
As we were awaiting the dessert assortment we opted for one final drink. We ordered the Watermelon Cucumber Mojito (crushed seedless watermelon, English cucumber and fresh mint intertwined with strokes of Bacardi Light rum and freshly squeezed lime juice) and the White Grapefruit Cosmopolitan (Absolut Ruby Grapefruit, a breath of Cointreau, freshly squeezed lime juice and white cranberry). While fine, sweet tasting drinks, desserts in their own right, this may have been overkill. You’ll probably want to skip one last round of drinks to keep costs down.
The Dessert Assortment featured miniature Chocolate “Lover” Cake, Mango Créme Brulee, Grapefruit Sorbet with Caramelized Sugar and Sunflower Seeds, and Green Tea Mochi. a great way to put the final touch on a wonderful meal.
Although the quality of Katsuya’s sushi is unparalleled, you can definitely find more original sushi, less catered to the Western taste, around town. Sure, you do go to Katsuya for fine food, but also for the ambiance and the spectacle. This is L.A. event dining at its best.
Katsuya L.A. LIVE is located at 800 W. Olympic Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90035. Call 213-747-9797. Hours: Sunday – Thursday 5PM – 11PM; Friday – Saturday 4PM – 12AM.