When it comes to reliably delicious Japanese fare and a lively, chic atmosphere in Los Angeles, you can never go wrong with a date night or family meal at Katsuya. The long-running restaurants — currently open at L.A. Live, Brentwood and Glendale– may have taken a blow, as all restaurants did, due to COVID-19, but now that they’ve reopened indoors and outdoors, they’re out to re-establish themselves as the one of the best and most creative destinations for sushi and a lot more.

The three L.A. locations debuted a brand new menu just before Mother’s Day, and chef Martin Heierling tells us it’s been in the works since January, with the brand’s corporate chefs working together to develop new ideas catering to guests who “yearned for that signature, vibrant Katsuya experience but also wanted fresh dishes to indulge in.”

Chef Martin, who was appointed SBE and its subsidiary Disruptive Restaurant Group’s first ever Chief Culinary Officer, joined the company as it embarked on a period of unprecedented growth, as it had over 100 new venues planned at the time. One of his duties is overseeing Katsuya’s new menu, which is a little bit different depending on which location to go to. Katsuya Brentwood offers new Ginger Chicken Bao Buns, Truffle Edamame, Sweet Prawn Shumai and Avocado & Spicy Tofu Salad exclusive to that location. Glendale, where we sampled the items, offers their own Japanese Slaw, Garlic Shrimp Toban, King Crab Tempura and Wagyu Gyoza.

“We wanted our new menu to mirror the buzzy ambiance and vibe Katsuya diners expect, while introducing them to intriguing new dishes that draw from traditional Japanese flavors yet are approachable for the American palate,“ Heierling tells L.A. Weekly.

Dungeness Crab Roll (Courtesy Disruptive Restaurant Group)

“We incorporated dishes like our new Crispy and Crunchy Japanese Slaw that encapsulates ingredients, flavors, textures and presentation into one experience,” Heierling adds. “The 21-ingredient slaw is served tableside in a glass box where diners are able to view its colors and textures up close. The offering hits all the senses. Expect crispy and crunchy textures laced with a mouth-watering umeboshi dressing.”

In addition to engaging new sides, the eaterie’s crowd-pleaser rolls have been upped a notch. The Futomaki House Roll, featuring snow crab, tuna, salmon, Hamachi, sriracha and crispy nori is one highlight we tried on a recent visit to Glendale, and it’s a party for the palate with its mixture of temps and textures. “This experiential offering is an oversized sushi roll that doubles the ratio of fresh fish to rice, which may be unfamiliar to our U.S. audience,” Heierling says.

They’ve also updated their cut rolls and sashimi. A new Seared Toro Takaki comes with Karashi mustard, sea salt and shiso, an embellishment that enhances the flavor of the fish and was inspired by the success of their Yellowtail Jalapeno.

There’s also maki offerings including a Dungeness Crab Roll with wasabi stems, masago, negi and finger limes and a special Spicy Tuna Roll featuring crab sourced from the West Coast on top and sashimi grade inside. Both rolls are decadent and filling options for a big sushi dinner or splurge-y lunch.

Tomahawk Short Rib (Courtesy Disruptive Restaurant Group)

And speaking of filling foods, the proteins at Katsuya are more on point than ever. With the new menu we wanted to highlight all new steak and beef driven offerings that demonstrate our skillful approach and continue to build upon past successful meat dishes,” Heierling shares. “We’ve really expanded our meat offerings and are really pushing the envelope to create exciting meat dishes that we know our clientele will appreciate.”

The Tomakawk Short Rib for example is a juicy and tangy dish to try. Braised then grilled, it comes with a Yakiniku BBQ sauce that compliments the tender beef with just the right amount of moisture. An even more indulgent meat treat, Katsuya’s 5 oz. Dry Aged New York Strip with Truffle Salt and Truffle Butter, grilled on their Robata (short for ‘robatayaki’ – cooked over hot charcoal on a wide and flat open grill). Both are a carnivore’s delight, especially as a complement to the cool freshness of the sushi options.

The Katsuya brand has come a long way since Master Sushi Chef Katsuya Uechi’s authentic cuisine took L.A. by storm. With inventive specialty cocktails and rolls,  Uechi’s innovative take on Japanese flavors earned a loyal following that’s grown under its expansion.

New menu (Courtesy Disruptive Restaurant Group)

While many might recall Katsuya’s locale in Hollywood, which had an almost nightclub-like vibe, the brand has definitely developed and evolved since that hot spot closed. With Disruptive at the helm, Brentwood’s location helped re-establish the brand in 2006, boasting a warm and trendy neighborhood vibe,  while L.A. Live’s a little more bustling due to its location next to The Staples Center and the NOVO concert venue. Glendale’s locale inside the Americana outdoor mall provides a relaxing post-shopping bite place, especially on the outdoor patio which overlooks the shopping center’s majestic fountain.

“Each of our lively and dynamic locations at Brentwood, LA Live and Glendale are thrilled to be open again,” says Heierling.  “New and returning guests can expect our signature Katsuya hospitality paired with an array of new dishes to be enjoyed from our art-filled indoor spaces or expansive, airy outdoor patios. We’re interested in pushing the boundary to give Katsuya fans an opportunity to be curious and step outside of what’s typically expected with this new menu.”

For those who aren’t quite ready to venture out to restaurants, Katsuya just announced last week, their exclusive availability via Disruptive’s proprietary new delivery app called on CITIZENS GO (which allows diners to order from multiple restaurants into one single cart with no delivery or hidden fees). They’ll join other Disruptive concepts including Umami Burger, Sam’s Crispy Chicken and Krispy Rice. Available at the Apple App Store and Google Play, 

Katsuya in Brentwood, Downtown (L.A. Live), Glendale open now. The Hollywood location is slated to re-open later this year. More info at www.sbe.com/restaurants/katsuya

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