Kid Hit Menu Items: Even though Katsu-Ya in Studio City is associated with celebrity high end sushi splurges on Ventura’s Sushi Row and has become more widely known for its tricked out spin-off brand by SBE Group and Philippe Starck, the original down-to-earth location actually has a kids’ menu. OK so it’s not exactly Kabuki’s program, but we’re talking yuzus and oranges. Katsu-Ya’s reasonably priced $6.50 bento box includes a couple of choices featuring the safer basics of chicken or beef ($7) teriyaki and veggie + shrimp tempura, with soup, rice and an adorable sushi lollipop (hit of the meal, of course), and they also bring special chopsticks and an extra cute plastic plate. If only American sweet suckers included a savory wrapper for some flavor contrast, like the real seaweed that was attached to the edge of the pseudo roe lollipop in my son’s combo lunch.
Adult Perks: If you live in L.A. and love sushi, chances are you know Katsu-Ya and have your opinions. Anyway, the bigger grown-up version of the combos range from $8.50 to $14.50 at lunch, or $42 to put yourself in the skilled hands of Chef Katsuya Uechi’s crew for an omakase meal. Roll the not-very-risky dice for the Chef’s Choice seven-course dinner ($53), but the full slate of cooked items and plenty of salads (salmon skin, albacore on spinach, etc.) are available as well. Many patrons come to Katsu-Ya for the spicy tuna crispy rice rolls, or other creative but not overly wacky combos such as the fairly sticky (for my taste) sweet spider roll with fried crab and mushroom. As is always the case for a proper sushi experience, sit at the bar for a more hard core treat if you want to see your uni, scallop, blue crab handroll and toro — for those who aren’t yet abstaining — being prepared. My most memorable Katsu-Ya sushi bar lunch included a five-month old baby in a sling.
Pros: Sushi fans and -phobes will both be fine, since Katsu-Ya has a full menu of hot cooked foods, too. The dining room isn’t huge, but it’s comfy enough, warm and simple.
Cons: Busy parking lot that requires valet, long waits if you don’t have a reservation or show up at a busy time.
Changing Station: No
High Chairs: Yes
Parking and Access: Valet in the lot, or street metered parking on Ventura Blvd.
Other Tidbits: The prospect of bringing kids to any respectable Japanese restaurant can be totally daunting. But rigid formality isn’t the original Katsu-Ya’s bag anyway, and the kids’ menu items signals their willingness to let young customers either stick to just rice and soup if that’s their preference. Or they’re welcome to venture out past the kiddo bento box territory by tasting other delicacies, or at least trying things that American kids aren’t typically expected to like. (A side note: my camera battery died during lunch so this post is lacking in the photo department, but look here for a couple basic shots.)
11680 Ventura Blvd, Studio City, CA 91604
Price: $$-$$$ (can vary widely, depending on your sushi tastes)
Hours: Hours: Monday – Friday, 11:30 a.m. – 2 p.m.; Monday – Thursday, 5:30 p.m. – 10 p.m.; Friday – Saturday, 5:30 p.m. – 10:30 p.m.; Saturday, noon – 2:30 p.m.; Sunday, 5:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.