Katsuya plus Starck in Hollywood equals one haute sushi equation
December 3, 2012
HOLLYWOOD, USA – It really doesn’t get any more trendy than this: the trendiest cuisine (sushi) in the trendiest of towns (Hollywood) in a restaurant designed by the trendiest of designers (Philippe Starck). Add to all that the chef that first touched off the California-style sushi trend (Katsuya Uechi), and you’ll have some idea of just how ultra-trendy Katsuya really is.
The Katsuya name wasn’t always so synonymous with club kid cool. Uechi’s first eponymous venture was much more low key, and his original Katsu-ya locations in Encino and Studio City are still open. But when nightlife impresario Sam Nazarian of sbe (which also owns the SLS Beverly Hills) got a hold of the concept and bundled Starck with the deal, Katsuya was elevated to rock star status.
The white-hot look of the space is the primary allure. Signature Starck quirkiness (love it or hate it) runs rampant: expect oversized-to-creepy-portions photos of luscious geisha lips and eyes on the walls. Basic white wooden tables are paired with voluptuous white sofas (draped with pretty young things and a fair share of celebs). Go glam with a sexy little party dress or skinny jeans, killer heels, and a glitzy top–it’s the perfect place for a sizzling date or a pre-clubbing meal with girlfriends.
But the glossy veneer isn’t the whole draw. Uechi’s sushi is as delish and creative as it’s ever been (though the Hollywood crowd often seems more interested in the scene than the eats). The master sushi chef is known for mixing traditional Japanese fare with California style–he’s the guy that kicked off the crispy rice on spicy tuna craze, and you’ll find that dish here, of course.
Other knock-your-socks-off raw selections are augmented with hot creations that run the gamut from fusion-y crab and mozzarella cheese tempura to miso-marinated black cod. While big on taste, the plates are often small on portion–ask your server for help matching your order to the size of your appetite. Wash it all down with some sake or opt for one of the creative cocktails, like the watermelon cucumber mojito.
The scene really does dominate the experience, so if you want to duck out of all the glitz and just enjoy the food, you have a few options: order takeaway online through their website, go at lunchtime (when it’s mostly dead, save for the business diners), or try one of the three other Katsuya by Starck locations in less-glitzy Brentwood, Glendale, and LA Live downtown. SBE has also taken the restaurant on the road to Houston, San Diego, and Miami. The concept no doubt translates especially well in beautiful-people South Beach, but the heart-of-Hollywood location will always win for the one that most tips the trendy scales.
Read more about Katsuya in our Los Angeles Guide.
Rachel Levin contributed to this post.