Friday, November 9, 2012

Izaka-ya by Katsu-ya

The Katsu-Ya group has 5 locations in Southern California and continues to grow. Under Chef Katsuya Uechi, Izaka-ya by Katsu-ya opened in Manhattan Beach, CA in January 2010.  Chef Uechi analyzed eating habits of the American public and stepped outside of what is considered to be Japanese cuisine, mixed with California-style cuisine. He is responsible for setting a fire to a new sushi trend which many other restaurant followed suit and now has a growing empire.

Keith and I met up with my bff Lucinda and her husband James for dinner at Izakaya by Katsuya, as it was nearby our hotel and only about 20 minutes from their house.  Luckily we had reservations because there was quite a wait when we arrived with an already packed and bustling dining room.  We were seated right away and greeted by our server, Asami, who explained they are a traditional Japanese restaurant where everything is in small plates and meant to be shared and ordered spread throughout the evening.

We started off with a bottle of cold unfiltered sake called Sayuri.  It was sweet and smooth and a perfect way to kanpai (cheers) to the beginning of our night!  To follow, the girls ordered a lychee and sochu cocktail, while the guys ordered Japanese beers.  We perused the sushi menu and then asked our server for suggestions.  She highlighted the chef's recommendations of the fresh catches of the day, so we started with the Happy Platter, which had a mix of albacore, ahi, and sable fish with spicy jalapeno or avocado toppings.  With it came more tame crispy rice with salmon and a delicate crab roll.  We also ordered a selection of nigiri samplings like salmon, spicy scallops, sweet live shrimp, and other sashimi tastings like yellowtail and the fresh catch of the day, white fish.  Three different types of fish came with each sashimi tasting, and the yellowtail samplings were my favorite, while the white fish were extremely delicate and indeed super fresh.  We also ordered a couple specialty rolls like the Robert Roll, which basically was a spicy tuna roll with avocado on top, and the Spider Roll, which is tempura soft shell crab with avocado.

By now, I was a couple drinks in and already getting full but the guys wanted more so we ordered another sashimi sampler and some fresh oysters that came with three different kinds loaded with either wasabi, uni, or jalapeno.  Overall, the atmosphere at Izakaya was upbeat and loud with many groups of four or more.  The service was attentive and speedy and the food was very fresh with both classic Japanese dishes and those with distinct California flare (avocado or jalapeno on EVERYTHING).  I would be interested to try some of the cooked meat or noodle dishes too.  We had a great time at Izakaya and I recommend sushi lovers check it out, although be prepared to spend some money as the drinks and sushi samplers add up quickly.

Total Rating: 3.75
Food: 4, Price: 3, Service: 4, Ambience: 3.5, Accessibility: 4

What I ate:

Happy Platter
with albacore and jalapeno, ahi tuna, sable fish with crispy onions, ahi tuna rolled in cucumber

Crispy Rice with Salmon & Crab Roll

Yellowtail Sashimi Tasting

Whitefish Sashimi Tasting

Robert Roll
spicy tuna with avocado on top

Spider Roll

Plus others ate:
Oyster Trio

Izakaya by Katsu-Ya on Urbanspoon

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