Friday, January 30, 2015

Review: The Izaka-ya by Katsu-Ya, Manhattan Beach

    Katsuya's Izakaya in Manhattan Beach opened its doors in 2010 and has been busy ever since! And yet the name of this place has me a bit confused.
   An Izakaya is defined as a bar which serves small dishes. But there are no sake bombs, or loud chugging of beer by drunken business men here. It is usually crowded and sometimes loud, but the high quality food, traditional Japanese decor and friendly staff create a warm, family-friendly atmosphere.

  Katsuya is the name of the founder of a small kingdom of Japanese restaurants. Katsuya's restaurants are known for giving fresh California inspired twists to traditional Japanese dishes. For example, Katsuya's version of yellowtail sashimi with jalapeno, which delivers a spicy overtone to the light and delicate fish. 
The yellowtail sashimi with jalapeno
    So, it's not a bar, in fact the only bar in the place is a sushi bar! And it's named after a creative guy; who has no creativity in naming his restaurants. He has two other restaurants with the same name! This is in no way a reason to avoid what is certainly the best Japanese food I have found west of Gardena. 
    The sushi and sashimi are just the beginning of their creative menu.  For a great introduction to Katsuya's innovative dishes, try their Izaka-ya plate. Here you will see his creative mixture of taste, texture and color. Each of the dishes on this platter packs a real flavor punch and I have found it's a good idea to share the bounty of this plate (i.e. it doesn't make the best lunch choice, rather a great appetizer to share among friends). 
The Izaka-ya plate
  The food is delicious and of the highest quality, but can also be expensive. During a recent visit I noticed that the entire first page of the menu, the 'seasonal specials', had no pricing at all. It made me a little uncomfortable, but didn't stop my husband from ordering some Toro, no matter the price. I prefer to know what I'm getting myself into.  Subtly waving down a server to ask pricing questions would be quite uncomfortable if one were on a date.
   If you are on a budget consider their Saturday and Sunday afternoon Japanese Tapas menu which is available from 3-5pm. Tasty bites range from $2 to $6 with specials on beer and wine as well. 
    As I mentioned, this place is popular and can get quite crowded.  Call ahead and make a reservation or be prepared to wait in the tiny screened off space by the front door, remember, no bar!

These are our favorite dishes at The Izakaya by Katsu-Ya: 

  • Salmon Skin Salad
  • All of the high quality Sushi and Sashimi
  • Crispy rice with spicy tuna
  • Yellowtail sashimi with jalapeño 
  • Grilled yellowtail collar (rarely seen on menus!)
Uni Sashimi - very generous portion!

Things on my list to try on my next visit:

  • Halibut Carpaccio w/Granny Apple
  • Seafood Ceviche (Japanese ceviche?)
  • Halibut Cheek kara-age (Southern fried fish cheeks?)
  • Okinawa Style Spare Rib

Have you eaten at the Izakaya by Katsu-Ya in Manhattan Beach?  
What are your favorite dishes? Really, I want to know! :)

1 comment:

Bruce McCorkendale II said...

I recall that they once allowed us to order and drink sake in the waiting area while we waited for our table.