Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Katsuya Hollywood opens; no fish left in ocean?

A dining nook with Starck's photo mural

Last night's opening of the new Katsuya Hollywood at the iconic corner of Hollywood and Vine was as big a sushi blowout as I'll likely ever see, and Philippe Starck's glammy design was pretty impressive too. Years after the Cafe Costes in Paris, the guy's still got the talent, and not just with Target toasters.So much sashimi they had to hang it on a clothesline...
After a cacaphony of taiko drums, owner Sam Nazarian appeared to make a sake toast with mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, councilman Eric Garcetti, police chief Bill Bratton and that most important person for restaurateurs, the head of L.A.'s building and safety dept. Executive chef Katsuya Uechi stopped by to great our new friends and tablemates, Cha Cha and her friend, who own gentleman's club Tee Up at the Bonaventure and Club Cha Cha in Torrance.
Katsuya makes its own very tasty sake, which is displayed in large bottles around the massive square sushi bar. We also sampled cocktails including a martini infused with green pea vodka -- tastier than it sounds, if you don't mind vegetal notes in your liquor, and a tall gin with elderflower and kiwi.Cha Cha, right, and her friend

Starck's ultra-modern, colorful design includes giant photo blow-ups backgrounding comfy square booths in the sushi bar room and larger table nooks in the lounge area area. As for the food, the crispy rice topped with tuna was a perfect rendition of this often-ruined staple, and the scallop sashimi was particularly luscious. The intensely flavored green tea brulee was one of the best riffs on creme brulee I've had, as long as you love matcha as much as I do. This place is a showstopper, likely to be overrun quickly by the Hollywood club crowd -- I just hope they appreciate the wonderfully fresh fish and housemade sake while they're lounging around on Starck's banquettes. Katsuya's empire is expanding awfully quickly, with new restaurants coming to Miami, Downtown L.A. and Glendale...but I don't know if Glendale is quite ready for this much style!

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