Katsu is a tiny, unassuming restaurant in the increasingly decrepit Lucky’s shopping center across the boulevard from Castro Village. I probably would have never seen it, so I’m glad my uncle recommended it to me. I’m glad to have finally found another Japanese restaurant near my house that’s worth going to.
At first I was slightly alarmed – Katsu was by no means booming on a Saturday night. You can’t see in very well from the outside due to drawn blinds, but it looked like no one was in there when we pulled up. That wasn’t true, there were half a dozen tables filled, but it was by no means full. This made me a bit sad, especially after eating the food – the place is good, why not more people? I can only assume it’s one of two reasons: location and/or advertising. The location is pretty poor (that shopping center is on its death bed) and I have no idea if they advertise, I was just assuming they don’t. Fortunately, word of mouth and quality food speak loudly enough, so they’re still in business.
The service the other night wasn’t great, but it got better as the night went on. I was initially dismayed at how long they took to take our order, and the fact that we were missing napkins through the first two courses of our meal. But, the food was brought out in a timely manner, and the waitress was appalled and apologetic when she realized that we had somehow been served without receiving napkins. So, strikes dismissed. I would not say the service was enthusiastic, but it was adequate and our waters were refilled often. Hence, I gave them an average rating.
Now the food, that’s where Katsu shines. And since that’s what I’m there for, I was pleased with my Katsu experience. The food’s not cheap, but it’s worth it. Nigiri sushi and Sushi rolls will run you around $4 each, though the selection is excellent. The lunch meals top out at around $8, so that’s probably the most economical time to eat there. Dinner combinations were right around $14/plate, while some other dinner meals were even more (some were less, too). The boyfriend and I each tried a different dinner combo – they all looked really good. I ordered combo A: sashimi and tempura; he ordered combo M: sushi and salmon. The combinations included miso soup, salad, rice, and dessert.
They start you out with a complimentary, tiny bowl of edamame, which I love. Then they bring out your pre-dinner dishes one by one – first soup, then salad. Their miso was excellent, and the salad has that tangy mayo-based dressing that I love. Then came the main courses; we each received our mains on their own plates, and a separate bowl of rice. My tempura was crispy and delicious, and included a variety of veggies and two shrimp. My sashimi was all tuna and it may have been the best sashimi I’ve ever had. Including anything I had in Japan (though, to be fair, we weren’t eating at fancy places in Japan). It was tender, mild yet delicious, and almost melted in your mouth. And they provided a relatively good amount of it – I was expecting only about half of what they served.
Boyfriend’s salmon was teriyaki, though the menu didn’t mention that (not that he minded). It was a tiny slab of fish, deliciously marinated and grilled. It was extremely tasty. His sushi plate was also quite good – he got a tiny order of California roll next to three pieces of sushi which I believe were maguro (tuna), mackerel, and shrimp (pretty obvious on that one).
Even though I originally thought the portions seemed small, we were quite full at the end. I suppose all the small plates add up to make a good amount for a meal. After we were done, we also received a scoop of ice cream, which was a nice touch (and prevented me from going to Loard’s after, which was both good and bad…). I chose rainbow sherbet and boyfriend ordered green tea. I was unaware that green tea ice cream actually tastes like green tea. And it’s not gross either. Katsu, good work, I will be back to see you again soon.