Where there’s smoke, there’s fire at Katana in West Hollywood

December 22, 2012

Photo of Sunset Boulevard courtesy of feverblue on Flickr Creative Commons

WEST HOLLYWOOD, USA – The Japanese eatery Katana is smoking both inside and out−and I don’t mean that they buck the state-mandated no smoking policy. The kitchen smolders with robata-yaki (Japanese-style open flame charcoal grill cooking), and the très Hollywood scene is so red hot that it’s smoking too.

The décor goes for a mod science fiction look, all steel beams and glistening surfaces. But the focal point is the velvet-roped see-and-be-seen terrace, where A-listers, film industry bigwigs, and a smattering of tourists keen to get a glimpse of their scene congregate. The views of Los Angeles are pretty killer too. And yes, because it’s legal to smoke outdoors at California bars and restaurants, there’s a fair share of people lighting up.

If you want to plant yourself in the middle of all this action, pull something from the Carrie Bradshaw section of your closet, like a slinky (yet sophisticated) dress and killer heels. With plenty of clubs within walking distance, this is a great place to start a night out. Luckily, the grill smoke is confined to the kitchen, so you don’t have to worry that your glam get-up will reek of smoke when you hit the clubs on the Sunset Strip.

Unfortunately, the service is spotty, and the hostesses lose points for getting so caught up in the scene that they forget to host. They WILL try to snub you with a less than desirable indoor table, unless you are either famous or blow enough smoke to make them think you’re an important somebody. If you can’t score a patio seat, aim for the Tea Room, another popular gathering point for the power set. If you can’t get a booking at all, try the sushi bar−they often take walk-ins.

Luckily, despite all the hype, it’s not all smoke and mirrors here…they still manage to cook up some decent Japanese fare. There are three working kitchens and a gigantic menu, so the offerings can be overwhelming. Definitely ask your server for suggestions in choosing between the robata-yaki (skewered meat, seafood, and, veggies cooked over a traditional Bincho charcoal grill and served with dipping sauces), sushi, and hot plates (seafood, noodle, and rice dishes).

I’m partial to the robata-yaki, as it’s a break from trendy sushi and Asian fusion at places like Koi and Katsuya. More adventurous eaters will appreciate the “offal” offerings−you can get skewered chicken cartilage, heart, gizzard, or liver (holy smoke!). You can also indulge in decadent filet mignon wrapped around asparagus, or keep it more basic with selections like chicken tenders or shiitake mushrooms.

The only thing that seems to cool down this smoking scene are the icy drinks. In addition to the selection of sake, exotic cocktails like the ginger lychee mojito have a far-East flair. Just pace yourself−food and drink can really add up here, and you wouldn’t want to see your whole night-out nest egg go up in smoke.

Read more about Katana in our Los Angeles Guide.

8439 W. Sunset Blvd.
West Hollywood, CA
(1) 323-350-8585
Katana on Urbanspoon

Click here for our full-form mobile travel guide, The Purple Passport to Los Angeles.

Rachel Levin contributed to this post.

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