Katsuya in Brentwood
Wow, this place is gonna be off the hook within weeks or a month at the most.
They have been open for a day or two and service is still definitely being worked out -- we went for lunch and everybody got served the wrong stuff.
But they said they're "limiting reservations" at night -- presumably to get the right crowd (i.e., young). They're aiming for a Morimoto effect.
HUGE space on San Vicente where a bunch of things have been, including El Dorado. The first thing you think when you enter is "Eurochow moved," but despite lots of white this ain't Eurochow. In addition to every possible configuration of tables, there are lots of comically-soft couches/booths/banquettes, including a huge booth that seems to snake into the wall, then around, and back out. We didn't really even get a look at the second room off to the right that further heightens the cavernous perception.
Check out the men's room and you'll definitely see the Morimoto thing happening. You put soap on your hands, then start the water flowing over the large block and rinse your hands in it. They're going for a young crowd, the kind that goes from one S. Starr restaurant to the next in Philly. I predict this will be one of the most happening places on the (true) Westside. Either that, or a huge bomb.
There's a robata bar, sushi, some traditional Japanese stuff like teriyaki and tempura combo plates, lots of rolls, and some of the Katsuya specials that are the real point in going. Yes, they had the spicy tuna w/crispy rice at lunch; no, they didn't have the seared albacore w/fried onions -- that's dinner only.
The place is designed to separate you from your money. I had a shrimp tempura roll. Dad had one order of albacore sushi, a chicken teriyaki lunch, and we split the spicy tuna on crispy rice and a bottle of Voss sparkling water. With tip we were out $70 at lunch.
Our experience was pretty much as described above. The restaurant feels like a well-lit version of Katana with its multiple zones: sushi and robata, a bar nook and a darker lounge area with poofy chairs. The rest of the space is filled with tables.
Katsuya Brentwood was designed by Phillipe Starck. The large, visually stimulating space allows for people to move around unobtrusively. Once you've sit down the severs are very attentive.
We were pleased to sit at the robata bar. The chef was way too busy to actually take an order but our waiter was handled that for us.
I'm not a huge fan of Katsuya/Studio City but I did recognize a number of dishes from their sushi menu. The robata component -- grilled meats and vegetables -- is a welcome addition as is an extensive cooked food menu.
The sushi was fine and seemed to deliver Katsuya quality. The robatayaki was good but I'll still head over to Yakitoriya or Shin Sen Gumi if I'm looking for the good stuff. One standout was the seafood soup ("Japanese bouilliabase"). The broth was rich and just a little spicy. It's nicely done and gives you the sense that there's a chef in the kitchen with a point of view.
The drinks menu featured the latest in hi-tech fresh fruit cocktails, a thoughtful sake selection and anything else you might like. This Katsuya is a lounge as much as it is a restaurant and they move a lot of alcohol.
The service was, frankly, less than stellar but the restaurant's been open for less than a week and already running at maximum capacity. I'm confident they'll get it right soon.
With its hip lounge and the Katsuya sushi menu this restaurant will inevitably become ground zero for Westside scenesters. We were able to slip in without a reservation and met a few other local couples who were there to check it out. I suspect we won't have that opportunity again anytime soon.