The Grand Avenue is hailed as the place to see and be seen. So it comes as no surprise that this marvelous location is now home to one of Hollywood’s favorite restaurants, Katsuya by Starck.
When the restaurant’s creator Chef Katsuya Uechi opened his first restaurant in Studio City California in 1997 he was up against competition that fed the refined palates of demanding and worldly Hollywood stars. He used what he had learned in the years as a chef in LA and infused American eating habits with his command of Japanese cuisine. When he teamed up with design connoisseur Philippe Starck, in 2006, the restaurant Katsuya by Starck was an instant success, and received accolades from critics and diners around the world.
Now, in their first international opening, the team has created an experience specifically for the Kuwaiti market, and it’s sure to give diners a refined sushi experience. There is an immediate sense of power when walking into the restaurant with Starck’s blend of samurais and bento boxes, while the furniture eases you into a natural beauty of wood and stone to transmit you from the mall to a memorable culinary experience.
Every guest at Katsuya is greeted by the entire staff in Japanese with a “Irasshaimase” and served by a member of staff who shies away from using sir or madam, and instead keeps things on a first name basis. They know the menu inside out, so you can ask them what you like about any dish, and we suggest listening to their recommendations. With five different kitchens in the establishment, there is sure to be something there for everyone.
After a few sips of the Burning Mandarin, a citrus drink with a jalapeno kick, we started with a menu item that truly highlighted the merger of Kuwait and Hollywood, the Edamame Hummus. Organic greens are mixed with tahini and spices, topped with olives and tomatoes and served with grilled pita to create a lighter and creamier version of the traditional Arab dish.
For a taste of Chef Katsuya Uechi’s creativity in merging American and Japanese tastes, try the Crispy Rice with Spicy Tuna signature dish. Regarding this signature dish, the rice patties are slightly fried on each side giving a bit of added flavor and texture to the base. It’s topped with a light, yet flavorful spicy tuna that is bound to jumpstart your appetite. If you are looking for tuna, but would rather stick to something a little more traditional, try the Spicy Albacore Sashimi with Crispy Onion, a delicious tuna topped with shoestring onions that make the fish flavors pop, without overpowering other flavors.
Haven’t had enough tuna? Treat yourself to something so special it is considered the king of sushi ingredients, the Toro. It is served either as sushi or sashimi, but we recommend the sashimi, so you can truly enjoy the melt-in-your-mouth experience. This very small piece, found in the underbelly of tuna, is full of fat, which gives it the butter like texture, but has a subtle enough taste to satisfy any palate.
Katsuya boasts of five kitchens that include plenty of warm dishes, and Robata (Japanese charcoal grill), for those who are uneasy about an uncooked meal or just don’t have a taste for sushi, the mouth-watering Wagyu Tobanyaki (to roast on a ceramic plate). True to its name, the dish comes out steaming hot with the aroma of wild mushroom sauce and delectable meat so tantalizing, you might not let it cool before taking a bite. For something a tad lighter than steak, try the Beef Asparagus from the grill. Thin succulent pieces of meat are wrapped around asparagus sprouts and topped with teriyaki sauce and sesame seeds.
For a warm dish that gives you a taste of Chef Katsuya’s culinary art try the Miso-Marinated Black Cod. The dish is marinated for 48 hours in sweet white miso and mirin, and then broiled to perfection. The result is a buttery cod full of a wonderful contrast of sweet and sour tastes, and is bound to have you declare it as an all-time favorite.
The serving staff at Katsuya will warn you to leave room for dessert, and they are right. You can spring for the traditional Chocolate Molten Lava, with a bit of ice cream on the side. Or you can go for Adzuki Profiteroles, a twist on the traditional Japanese Modi. At Katsuya they’ve replaced the traditional sticky rice cake with a light profiterole, stuffed it with a sweet red bean paste and served with a scoop of green tea ice cream.
Whether you are going for the ultimate Japanese experience, or are looking for the hippest place in town, Katsuya should definitely be next on your dining list.
Katsuya is located at The Grand Avenue – The Avenues (2228 3195/6), and Arabella in Al- Bida’a (2221 4985). For more information follow them on Facebook at KatsuyaMiddleEast or on Instagram @KatsuyaMiddleEast