Katsuya by Starck
Lobster & Truffle Chawanmushi with Black Truffle Potato Base
Heritage Berkshire Pork Gyoza with Soy-Vinegar Dipping Sauce
Baked Crab Hand Rolls – Baked Snow Crab with signature sauce, rice, soy paper
Sashimi Course – Fresh Uni with Ikura, Ama Ebi, Snapper, Scallop, Aji, Ora King Salmon, Octopus, Kampachi
Lobster Tempura – Half Lobster lightly battered and tossed with creamy, spicy sauce, topped with candied walnuts
Wafu Carbonara – Slow cooked Bacon, Soy Reduction, Soft Poached Egg
Corn Crunch Roll – Garlic Butter Sauteed Shrimp and Avocado Rolled with Crispy Corn Tempura drizzled with sweet soy
Lemon Berry Pie – Yuzu Custard, Shortbread Crust, Macerated Strawberries, Strawberry Sorbet
Double Espresso over Ice – LAMill
Like many of the Los Angeles offshoots within the SLS Hotel and Casino, Katsuya by Starck arrived to excited opening acclaim when the resort opened its doors just one year ago, and although time as well as legal troubles have led to a bit of negative press the restaurants themselves have continued to show well with trendy crowds and bumping EDM detracting only slightly from cuisine that fares far better than doubters may expect.
Admittedly known to the house, but ordering a la carte and treated to items no different to those served at tables around us, it was at a cozy booth decorated in katana and neon fans that our trio sat, and greeted by Chefs as well as a young server who proved above par for the course a ten-item sampler of signatures as well as a couple more eclectic items were ordered, the results ranging from truly excellent to surprisingly not bad.
No doubt a spot to be seen, the crowd well dressed and attractive with the sort of lighting and ambiance that intentionally screams ‘cool,’ the meal began with Japanese Beer alongside Sake and progressing to an atypical chawanmushi that saw custard atop black truffle mashed potatoes punched up with lobster there is little doubt the menu’s high prices are at least in-part justified by the quality of ingredients, each bite utterly indulgent no matter how far from tradition it did stray.
Requesting the kitchen to roll out items at the Chef’s discretion, plates two and three featured Katsuya’s signature crab roll alongside rich pork gyoza interconnected by a flaky lattice, and although the former was indeed creamy and supple the crustacean itself seemed a touch muddled by semi-sweet sauce while the golden dumplings were a head-on assault on the senses, the thin shell breaking forth with juicy bekshire pig lent balance by a melange of herbs and spices.
Next offered an iced sashimi box along with a full order of tomago, suffice it to say that with exception of a few mispronunciations from the server everything spoke to quality fish sliced by a skilled hand, and with the half lobster arriving next given a whimsical ‘walnut prawn’ treatment the lightness of the batter almost seemed impossible, particularly when accounting for the fact that the flesh itself remained sweet, tender, and appropriately cooked just past raw.
Amused by the crunchy corn roll, an item selected almost entirely because it seemed destined to fail yet one that instead offered a complex flavor profile that saw discrepant ingredients each add something to the whole, savories concluded in a large bowl of wafu noodles steaming beneath a poached egg and tender bacon, the soy unfortunately pushing the salinity a bit past ‘umami’ and into the realm of outright salty, a shame as the noodles and bacon were each prepared quite well.
Unable to settle on just one dessert, the selection of sweets actually quite appealing compared to spots like Nobu or Koi, it was with two items served alongside a double espresso of LAMill over ice that the meal would end, and although the small tart of yuzu pudding on a buttery crust was a refreshing bite brightened by strawberries it simply couldn’t compare to a creamy bread pudding given the ‘baba au rhum’ treatment by way of a pipette of booze, the addition of a honey tuille and rich vanilla ice cream adding complexity of temperature, texture, and taste.
THREE STARS: Faring better than similarly branded swank sushi houses with a few standouts and the only real flaws in cuisine a result of too much sauce, Katsuya fulfills its role of offering tourists and club kids a good variety of light bites in a trendy setting while also providing high quality cuisine for more serious diners willing to look past the ‘scene.’
RECOMMENDED: Gyoza, Chawanmushi, Lobster Tempura, Bread Pudding.
AVOID: Wafu Carbonara, Baked Crab Hand Roll.
TIP: Currently offering a bargain prix fixe, and previously part of the 50% off Social Sundays deal, there are no doubt deals to be had at Katsuya, though compared to other such spots even the standard menu pricing is not unreasonable at all.
WHAT THE STARS MEAN: 5 World Class, 4 Excellent, 3 Good, 2 Fair, 1 Poor