Katsuya in LA is the place to see and be seen. It’s mentioned regularly in reality shows, attracts celebrities of all kinds, and even has its own category on People Magazine to show off who’s dined at this LA hot spot.
This is not the reason Katsuya is permanently on my LA food list. I could care less if I was seated next to Kim Kardashian. Leigh and I showed up to LA Live, next to the Staples Center, at 6 o’clock on a Friday afternoon, wearing ripped jeans and over-sized sweaters. I had made a reservation in advance, because even at the early hours of the night, Katsuya easily has a line out the door. Tons of trendy, well-dressed individuals walked in, ordering bottles upon bottles of sake and platters of sushi that could make anyone drool.
Leigh and I were seated towards the back, sitting on a comfortable bench. While trendy, the restaurant is still extremely comfortable. You hardly feel overwhelmed by the hustle of the staff and loud noise. The waitstaff becomes more attentive as you keep drinking and ordering Uni. However, Leigh and I were just getting a light bite and felt slightly neglected by our waiter. It’s not necessarily a rudeness, but rather a disappointment about the smaller bar tab, when there is money to be made elsewhere.
We started off the meal simple with a sushi roll. While trying to stay simple, it’s kind of hard to accomplish at Katsuya. Each of the rolls are more interesting then the last, combining favorite Japanese flavors and dishes into an overflowing roll. We decided to order the Rock Shrimp Tempura Roll, a favorite of ours.
Deliciously crisp pieces of rock shrimp tempura are tossed in a spicy, creamy sauce and then carefully piled on top of a spicy tuna roll. It’s a full on Spicy Shrimp and Tuna indulgence. You can easily pick pieces of shrimp off the top, and also eat the roll and shrimp together into one big, messy bite. It’s absolutely awesome and texturally on par, with each bite activating the senses. The Rock Shrimp Tempura is wildly addicting, served as an appetizer on its own for those wanting to try other sushi rolls. But for us, it’s the perfect combination, especially with the portion size for our needs.
Next, we ordered my absolute favorite dish in all of LA and my sole reason for returning to Katsuya every single trip to visit my sister; Stuffed Eggplant. Eggplant is arguably my favorite food (only tied with Raspberries for the coveted spot). This dish at Katsuya will radically change any way you look at the simple, purple vegetable. Simply put, it’s unbelievable.
This dish is a gift from the eggplant loving chef gods. The dish is prepared with so much tender loving care I wouldn’t even dream of trying to replicate this at home. They carefully hallow a beautifully, deep purple eggplant to utilize all of the contents inside. The eggplant is cooked with a sweet miso glaze and mixed with chopped pieces of albacore tuna and almonds. Then the contents are cooked together, creating a wonderful mixture of sweet, savory and crunchy. They stuff the eggplant, tuna, and almond back into the original eggplant and top it off with crispies on top. It’s just out of this world. Every time I dig into this dish, I remember the state of culinary bliss achieved last time and already begin to plot my next trip to LA for a taste of this perfect eggplant dish. If Katsuya were to open in New York, I would easily eat one of these at least once a week and still fall in love over and over again. It’s that good.
After having literally liked the plate clean (yes, it was slightly embarrassing, but this dish is my favorite thing ever, okay?), we realized we might want to have one more dish before a night out in Malibu. Leigh tried to explain a dish she had tried here with my sister, Amanda, but had trouble remembering what it was other then the shape of the roll. We finally gave up and ordered the Halibut Wrapped Crab and Avocado.
This dish is extremely simple, especially compared to the other ones of the evening. All of the ingredients were so fresh, and prepared simply, that it was delicious and refreshing to eat. We gobbled up the little pieces, dipping it into the wasabi soy sauce, adding an element of saltiness and heat. It was a great final dish to top off a slightly heavier first two courses.
Katsuya is an LA fan favorite and there is definitely a reason why. The food is phenomenal, atmosphere extremely fun, and the meal is memorable. Whether you want to stop in for a quick bite of sushi, or an entire huge meal and lots of drinks, it’s perfect for all occasions. And you might just get lucky and seated next to your favorite celeb, while eating some extraordinary food.
Katsuya – 800 West Olympic Boulevard (at LA Live) – Los Angeles, CA
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Type: Japanese, Sushi
Perfect For: Impressing Foodies, Quality Seafood, Special Occasions, Date Night, Celebrity Sightings
Reservations: Recommended via OpenTable
Favorite Dishes: Stuffed Eggplant, Rock Shrimp Tempura Roll, Miso Cod