The SLS South Beach hotel has finally opened, bringing West Coast style and cool to South Beach. The SLS in Los Angeles is home to both the Bazaar by José Andrés and Katsuya.
While much buzz has circulated around the Bazaar, Katsuya by Starck South Beach (its formal moniker) should not be overlooked. Master sushi chef Katsuya Uechi opened his first restaurant, Katsu-Ya, in Studio City in 1997, and the spot soon became a hit with celebrities and foodies alike. The first Katsuya by Starck opened in 2006 in Brentwood, and the small chain expanded throughout California. Katsuya South Beach is the eighth restaurant, with six others in California and one in Houston.
As you enter Katsuya, you're greeted by a hearty "irashaesay" by a group of hostesses and sushi chefs. This translates to "welcome to our home," and the staff does everything to make guests feel special. The room itself can be described as "stark by Starck." White walls, curtains, and furnishings with larger-than-life portraits of a geisha and a gentleman on the walls keep the space clean and simple. The minimalism was purposely designed to highlight the food, not the décor. The fare is bright and playful, with touches of citrus and hints of spices designed to enhance the fresh seafood and Kobe beef.
Kobe filet with foie gras medallions in a plum wine sauce ($30) is rich and decadent.
Yellowtail sashimi with fresh jalapeno ($19) is a light, crisp, and refreshing plate for a sultry South Beach evening.
Katsuya's signature dish is crispy rice with spicy tuna ($14). The rice is lightly buttered and seared until crispy, then topped with spicy tuna.
Seared tuna with Japanese salsa ($18) is a colorful, beautifully presented plate.
Before dining, however, you might want to have a cocktail at the
upstairs Dragon Room Lounge, a dark den of cocktails decorated by oversize images of a
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geisha's eyes and lips. Selections from Katsuya's menu are available in the lounge too.