You know about Katsuya if you live in LA. How could you not? They’ve got five locations, including the (non-affiliated, actually fantastic) Studio City original, and outposts at L.A. Live, The Americana, and Hollywood and Vine. But the Brentwood version is its own beast. For starters, locals actually eat here, which means you’re more likely to run into Gwyneth or a Chris (Evans, or Hemsworth, or Pine) than a tourist from Milwaukee. And unlike other LA locations, where service is lackadaisical and foot traffic takes precedent over food prep, we’ve never had a bad time at the Brentwood location. Because the service is great and there’s enough good, crowd-pleasing food to ensure we walk out happy.
That being said, the menu is going to look the same whether you’re at this Katsuya, or one in South Beach, or even Dubai. It’ll have the spicy tuna crispy rice you see on every table at every LA location, and (we assume) every other location, too. Order this. It’s a tremendous bite of food - minced tuna over buttery grilled sushi rice - and if the four pieces weren’t $17, we’d recommend getting an order per person. The same goes for the baked crab hand roll, with sweet snow crab that melts in your mouth. Unfortunately, it’s $19 for two (and for some reason, they’re wrapped in white soy paper instead of nori).
But it’s Katsuya - the prices are going to be high. The bigger issue is the food here is almost always oversauced, like they’re trying to revive the fish with ponzu and ambiguous spicy aiolis. Which is a shame, because there’s actually some high-quality sushi and sashimi on the menu. The tableside chutoro tartare is served with caviar, wasabi leaf, and what are essentially nori tortilla chips, and you’ll love it... despite the truffle-heavy ponzu sauce. It’s a similar deal with the yellowtail sashimi with jalapeño: A clearly fresh and beautifully cut piece of amberjack that’s swimming in too much ponzu.
And that’s sort of par for the course here - everything is A Lot. If they removed the tables, you’d swear you were standing in a club. Like 1Oak, there’s a bar or two in every room, bronze statues of dinosaurs, and a runway of candles down the center of one dining room. The walls are lined with ultra close-up photos of women in kabuki makeup, and just about every single surface is impressively (almost improbably) polished. And if you’ve sampled a few bottles from the impressive sake list, there’s a pretty good chance you’ll get startled by the ghostly apparition that peers out at you from behind the bathroom mirrors.
Walking around here is like having a high-proof shot of Brentwood injected straight into your veins. It will take all your willpower not to glance at every table, trying to figure out if that handsome dad is actually Matt Damon. You’ll see CAA agents talking deal memos with YouTube stars, 15-year-old Archer students ordering tableside toro and caviar service at lunchtime, and, somehow, eternally, Freddie Prinze Jr. and Sarah Michelle Gellar, sitting one table over.
Ask anyone who lives in Brentwood which restaurant they go to the most, and their answer will probably be Katsuya. Does that mean it’s the best one? Not even close. But it’s reliable, with plenty of privacy, and lots of room for families that live nearby. And despite the decor, the high prices, and the propensity for drowning good fish in bad truffle ponzu, this kind-of sushi restaurant still serves enough great stuff that we’ll never be mad about eating here - as long as it’s on someone else’s card.
Spicy Tuna Crispy Rice
This is Katsuya’s signature item - for good reason. They’ve got these down to a science: Perfectly crisp rice, topped with a huge dollop of Sriracha-heavy tuna.
Yellowtail Sashimi With Jalapeño
Another dish you’ll see on every single table, and another winner. We wish they’d lighten up on the ponzu, but the combination of yellowtail and jalapeño is ubiquitous for a reason.
Salmon Sashimi With Caviar
One of the subtler dishes on the menu here, but strangely, the salmon and caviar flavors are lost beneath the flavor of the… cucumber? Not a good sign.
A4 Wagyu Fried Rice
$55 fried rice sounds fun. This is not. The A4 wagyu is (obviously) great, but the rice doesn’t have much flavor to it besides soy sauce. Your money is better spent on a couple bottles of sake.
The robata here is a reliable option if you want to be sure you’re not getting too much sauce, but the asparagus and zucchini, in particular, are our favorites. They’re charred from a coal-fired grill, and the best way to consume vegetables here. Ignore the heavy, mayonnaise-y sauces on the side.