I love LA. I love LA. I love LA. Where once I thought that if I lived in the United States I would for sure live in NYC, I now think it’s LA, it’s all LA.

For every reason that everyone else seems to not like the place, I love it. I love the flatness, I love the expansiveness (one could read that as expensiveness but heck I live in London ok), I love the urban sprawl.

I love the bleached blonde wanna be starlets (ok I don’t love them per se, but they amuse me), I love that everyone’s an actor, I love the bigness that is LA.

And just to make my not-being-in-LA-ness suck even more, I feel like I’ve made some friends there, people who I catch up with on my trips and who eat with me and dude, they even take photos of their food with me… {heart}

So, almost a tradition now, last Friday night I dined with Esther, Sook and Sarah at Izaka-ya by Katsu-ya, gorging ourselves on scrumptious toro and itsy bitsy glasses of sake (that were regularly refilled, mind you).

Izaka-ya by Katsu-ya is part of the Katsu-ya Group of restaurants, the healthily nurtured child of master sushi chef, Katsuya Uechi. I hadn’t heard of any of his restaurants before, but Sarah mentioned she loved this place (and um, if you check out her blog, you’ll see how much she loves to eat) so going there was a no brainer.

And I have to say, aside from the initial hiccup with the service (we’d made a reservation but because we weren’t all there on time they gave our table to a group in the ever growing queue, but we sat pretty much immediately once the whole party showed up) Izaka-ya by Katsu-ya did not disappoint.

We started with the kinkan (kumquat) halibut carpaccio, sliced so ridiculously thin that you can barely see the thing. The kinkan added an interesting zest to the sweet, soft halibut, as did the slice of miniature tomato. And the coriander? Well, I removed that mighty quickly cos I know that tastes vile.

Off the sashimi menu we also ordered a serve of toro (fatty tuna, always good) and ok, let the hate mail begin, some blue fin tuna. Yes I did say blue.

The toro was faultless as it usually is, the fatty tuna so juicy and dissolving on contact with my tastebuds.  And the blue fin tuna, well, ok so blue fin is meant to taste better than yellow fin right? And so that’s why it’s a delicacy in Japan and gets fished a little too extensively, right?

Right. It’s all true ~ the blue fin tuna sashimi was better than any other tuna sashimi I’ve had and though there is the stigma that eating blue fin is a big no-no, I have to say, if farmed correctly, these babies are the bomb. The bomb.

Another hit from the menu was the scallop sashimi, served on individual spoons on a slice of radish (and something tangy, which I’ve completely forgotten) and topped with a tiny drop of uni. I’m not a big fan of uni (sea urchin) so Esther got a double serve but the scallop. The scallop. Fat, juicy, sweet, fresh, heavenly. What more can I say?

Ok, what I can say is that the goodness did not stop at the scallops.

We also had a pot of steamed asari clams, which I’ve now learnt is really easy to make! Well, “easy to make” is relative isn’t it because I’m sure mine won’t taste half as flavoursome as what we had at Izaka-ya by Katsu-ya. The soup was so tasty that we improvised with our scallop spoons, but some smart person went one better and dug in with the enormous serving spoon. All class 😉

And the awesomeness is still not over. My favourite, and I think everyone’s favourite dish of the night (we ordered this twice) was the seared toro with crispy spinach. Where have I been? I have not ever had this dish before and seriously? I may move to LA just for this.

I mean, firstly – toro. We’ve already established that toro is genius. And then the crispy spinach, like crazy-potato-chip-crispy spanich. And then cooked with a big handful of garlic. It was hands down the winning dish, yes, over the clams and all of the sashimi. A greens dish wins. Am I getting old or what?

Sadly, all the dishes weren’t fabulous but honestly, they were up against some pretty stiff competition. We ordered the baby lobster roll thinking.. I don’t actually know what we were thinking, but what we got were shrimp (which ok, they kinda look like baby lobters) but not even that, there were only minuscule pieces of shrimp and a-whole-lotta mushrooms.

We also ended the meal with a serve of okinawa yakisoba which, I have to preface my commentary, I haven’t had before. So maybe it’s meant to taste the way it tasted, but I thought it was far too peppery, and not in a good cracked pepper way but a powdery processed pepper way. Like I said, I don’t actually know what I’m talking about so don’t hold it against them.

Needless to say that the night as a whole was a raging success. We talked and laughed and gossiped and drank and… dragged our butts to Milk for a multi-coloured dessert. Big thanks to Sarah, Esther and Sook for being brilliant company and while I’m at it, also a big hug to Danny and Nguyen (and Esther again) for entertaining me the next day.

I love these guys and I’ve pledged to eat at Nguyen’s soon to open restaurant in LA by the end of this year so…  guess I’ll just have to try and get my butt back there 🙂

Izaka-ya by Katsu-ya
8420 West 3rd Street,
Los Angeles, CA, 90048
(323) 782 9536

Izakaya by Katsu-Ya on Urbanspoon

12 Thoughts on “I {heart} LA: new friends, good times and dinner at Izaka-ya by Katsu-ya

  1. I’ve just been there too! It’s really crowded but once we ignored the crowd it was great. The food was awesome – you didn’t try the foie gras? Really great. Nice post 🙂

  2. I was looking forward to reading this when you mentioned it deserved its own post – I agree! Everything looks amazing and I’m convinced I could live on toro alone. Depending on the time of year (and whose exciting experiences I’m currently reading about), there are so many places I want to live. LA is near the top; luckily, because I have family there, I always have a good reason to visit. We just won’t catch up on conversation that much because we’ll be too busy eating at these places you’ve mentioned . . . ! Thanks for sharing!

  3. Jenny: there’s foie gras on the menu?? I did not see that. I’ll just have to go back *rolls eyes*

    Tangled Noodle: Oh toro is just to die for isn’t it? I could live on it too. I think LA is a great place to live any time of the year really because it’s their “winter” now and it’s 20degC. I mean seriously, London doesn’t get that warm in summer!

  4. whoa! amazing dins! you had me at bleached blondes hahahaha but hell, this is what I call good times and GREAT Eat!!!

  5. This was such a great dinner! I can’t believe we ate the blue fin! Aiee!!! Good times!

  6. …And LA loves YOU, Catty! So good to eat and catch up and we cannot wait until your migration here. 🙂 Indeed that was a divine meal and thank you SO much.

  7. Valisa: LOL yeh you get the odd one or two or fifty bleach blonde starlets in LA but it’s great, they are very Malibu barbie 🙂

    yutjangsah: shhhhhhh! it’s a secret!

    e*starLA: hahaha let’s not count our chicken yet, I do love LA, I will have to think about it very seriously 😉

  8. sooo much good food in LA. looks and sounds like an amazing (and delicious time).

  9. my spatula: It was definitely an amazing and delicious time. LA is like a little broiling pot of culture and food, I love it!

  10. FLIP. everything looks wonderful and uber delicious. is that a junmai daiginjyo I spy there? That’s pretty much my fav type of sake. YUM. xx

  11. diva: you know what? I was thinking that was the best (read: most easy to drink) sake I’ve ever had also! I think we need to go out for some sake 😉 know where to get it in London?

  12. The more posts I see about LA the more I want to go! The meal looks delicious.

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