Although some people are weary of tasting menus (yes Anthony Bourdain I am talking about you), most of us revel in being able to sample a chef’s skill in a menu designed to amuse, beguile, and seduce diners into a food nirvana.
Some friends and out of country visitors went to the Hollywood location of Katsuya on a night when an infamous celebrity (a certain tall thin blond heiress) had paparazzi swarming the place. Since we were not sought for photographs, we entered the place easily and were escorted to an ensconced booth facing the sushi bar. No one could decide what to order (besides a few bottles of a delicious Sancerre), so we each went with the tasting menu of five courses ($65).
A ceviche began the meal, with nicely dressed citrus ponzu sashimi of yellowtail, tuna, salmon and a sprinkle of jalapeno and cilantro in a tea cup sized serving dish. A nice light beginning for a very delectable journey.
The second course was actually four samples of the most famous dishes offered: crispy shrimp, lightly battered and fried with a rich creamy sauce on the side, the yellowtail with jalapeno, crispy rice with spicy tuna, and spicy albacore tuna with crispy onion. Everything was nice if not necessarily inspired. I found the crispy shrimp too rich with the sauce, but nice without it. The spicy albacore with crispy onion too salty, and the spicy albacore tuna on crispy rice was not at all spicy but tasty, but the jalapeno yellowtail was perfect.
The next dish was Kobe beef with a small slice of foie gras. I loved the foie gras, but found my beef too cooked (medium); it is a shame for such a wonderful piece of meat to be overdone, but in the tasting menu they do not ask how you want the meat portion prepared, so if you are like me and love your meat rare, be sure to tell your server before you order.
The final savory course was tuna, halibut and unagi sushi with a rice paper wrapped baked crab hand roll. It was divine, but we were all too full to completely finish this penultimate course; we tasted what we loved and left the rest to save some room for dessert.
Since there were five of us dining, we got to see that each dessert plate had a different flavor of mochi ice cream along with the cream filled profiteroles and fresh fruit we all got.
We literally had to stagger out of the restaurant (good thing the paparazzi were gone by then). Next time we will order more judiciously, picking out our favorite dishes amongst those we sampled, but we were glad to have tasted it all celebrity sighting in Hollywood included.