Next on our list is Katana, a 170- seat Japanese restaurant that outranks many neighborhood Asian restaurants in scope, style, and ambition. Walk up a dramatic stone staircase and there’s the outside patio. Get a view of the Sunset Strip and maybe Mitch, the young, gay waiter from Michigan, taking an order from a celebrity basking under one of the heat lamps. Outside is casual, and there’s a happy hour where beer or sake comes with a $5 tab. Inside, magnificence. Candlelit and love-nest dim, it’s a movie set ready for a tryst. In this light, everyone is beautiful.
“Fifty varieties of sushi rolls, nothing frozen!” says Derrick Badenhorst, general manager, here from South Africa. “So clean, so fresh, no additives, it comes from sources all over the world.”
“The food here is sexy, everything here is sexy,” adds New York–native Raul Salinas, executive chef, working at Katana for 19 years.
Then into the sexy kitchen, with its huge, bright sushi bar, behind which lie the limitless Asian options the chefs are waiting to pile onto the shiny black plate in front of you. As you enter, a welcoming shout of “IRASSHAI!” (Ee-da-shay!) greets all visitors. It’s also a farewell thanks-forcoming yell.
This kitchen features Robata, which literally means cooking over an open flame. Head sushi chef, Koji Matsuzaki, is using bincho tan, a special evergreen wood charcoal, imported from Wakayama, a village in Japan. Here it is heated for three days and allows for slow cooking at 2,000 degrees, assuring an extraordinary flavor.
Robata is served on wooden skewers. Called Japanese comfort food, it’s also nicknamed “Japanese tapas” and encourages sharing and grazing. It allows for a bit of sushi modification, too. “Add a bit of jalapeño, please?” Sure.
The big favorites here are the tuna chili carpaccio, and the Chilean seabass that really does melt in your mouth. The Mekyabetsu Brussels sprouts are roasted and a fine go-with. To try everything consider a sampling of the whole menu, at $65. IRASSHAI! www.innovativedining.com/restaurants/katana