Kirbie's Cravings


Katsuya by Starck is a chain of upscale restaurants originally from LA, featuring Japanese food for the American palate. Located inside the Andaz hotel in downtown San Diego, this swanky restaurant space is massive for San Diego standards, though the hostess told me that she actually thought it was quite small.

Here is half of the space:

Katsuya has three kitchens serving raw, hot, and robata grill items.

We were actually invited by the restaurant so rather than only trying a few dishes, the chef prepared smaller sample portions of Katsuya’s more famous items. Chef Adam also took the time to come out personally and explain the dishes as well as get an idea of our preferences for the rest of the night.

Katsuya has an impressive sake selection and we chose to share a small bottle of Tomoju.

They also had some interesting cocktails and we tried a Kiwi Envy, which I really enjoyed. Light, refreshing, with a lot of kiwi pulp.

To my delight, the first thing we were served was an uni platter consisting of uni quail egg shooters with caviar, uni sushi, and fresh uni served in its shell.

Since this was basically uni straight up there’s not much to describe. If you enjoy uni like me, you’ll likely enjoy this sampler. If not, then probably not.

Crispy Rice with Spicy Tuna

This is Katsuya’s most famous dish, though I actually was not a fan. I loved how creamy the spicy tuna was, but found the crispy rice to be too hard. I’ve liked crispy rice sushi dishes before, but didn’t particularly like the crispy rice here.

Yellowtail Sashimi with Jalapeño

This was one of DH’s favorites of the night. The sashimi was fresh, and flavored with ponzu and jalapeno. It managed to stay a light appetizer even with the spicy kick.

Kiwi Scallops

I really enjoyed this pairing of the citrus with fresh large slices of scallops. It looked colorful and tasted just as good.

Next came a sampler of the robata grill items: beef asparagus, mushroom, fingerling potatoes, tomato wrapped bacon, and chicken thigh with skin. These were a little too oily for my taste.

Beef tobanyaki with wild mushrooms

This was one of my favorite dishes of the night. The beef was tender, perfectly seasoned and sizzling hot. I liked that three different mushrooms were used.

Stripped Baze

Striped Bass served cooked with Szechuan sauce. I really enjoyed this one as well. The crispy breading was just the right amount of thickness and crunchiness. It would be a perfect fried chicken breading as well. The fish fillet inside remained very moist.

Sashimi platter

The sashimi was fresh, though nothing particularly stood out.

Our dessert platter featured mochi ice cream, chocolate pudding, strawberry shortcake and creme brulee. All were pretty good. DH’s favorite was the chocolate pudding.

Some green tea to aid in digestion

We left very full and pretty happy with what we ate. Of course, being an upscale restaurant, Katsuya is on the expensive side. I’d save this one for special occasions. To save some money, I’d recommend coming during their happy hour or when they run other specials like their Monday night half off sake bottles. They also have various events happening often, such as the Art of Sake and Sushi that took place a few weeks ago. You can view the menu on their website.

Here’s a quick shot of the fancy bathrooms. I couldn’t resist checking them out.

Please note, as stated above, I was invited by the restaurant and my meal was complimentary. I was not paid for this review and my opinions are my own.

600 F Street
San Diego, CA 92101
Katsuya on Urbanspoon

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14 comments on “Katsuya”

  1. The uni platter looks great, but the item isn’t on their online menu. Can’t help wondering how much it would cost there.
    I had my birthday party there two years ago at the LA downtown location and the food was super delicious and priced a bit lower.

    • You know I noticed that the uni platter isn’t on the menu either, but I think it’s something they serve regularly because the chef told me it’s a common appetizer people like to start with. I didn’t realize I didn’t find it on the menu until later, so I’m not sure how much it normally costs.

  2. I go to the Katsuya on Ventura Blvd every once in awhile. I’m partial to their baked crab hand rolls at the end of the meal because they are just so delicious that no matter how good everything else was, I know that will be the thing I want on my taste buds last. I’ve loved everything I’ve ever tried there, but .. yeah .. pricey and not for regular outings. Studio City is teeny and nowhere near as luxe as San Diego!

    • I was wondering if the LA ones were really big because the hostess was completely serious when she told me she thought this was quite small. I couldn’t believe it when she said that because it is humongous.

  3. Wow! Uni looks delicious!

  4. who the hell is Lindazilla?

    They’ve always struck me as a Nobu-knock off even the yellowtail sashimi with jalapeno even has nearly identical plating.

    So given the expense, and the experience..would you pay for a visit here or rather spend your money somewhere like Ota or Katio?

    • They did remind me a lot of Nobu too.
      Lindazilla…not sure. I think it’s the first time I’ve received a comment. It’s not your soul mate?
      I personally would definitely choose Kaito or Ota. But I think it’s also personal preference. I like authentic Japanese and I really love eating high quality sushi at a sushi bar. This place is definitely catering to a more American audience that prefers the rolls, etc.

  5. Thats what I’m trying to figure out! :p

    I figured as much for your preferences, I just wanted to see you say it haha.

    • Haha, yeah give me the sushi bar experience any time. Though there’s a lot of American Japanese restaurants that I dislike and cringe every time a friend wants to go. I wouldnt mind going to Katsuya. I especially liked their hot food section. It’s just a little pricey

  6. I’m sure I found you via Catty Critic. Admittedly, I’m one of those that like the American Japanese restaurants, but that may be because I’m only half Japanese. 😉

    Also? Love Rodzilla’s avatar. Awesome.

    • Ah, happy you found me through CattyCritic! I love spending time with her. You should get to meet Rodzilla. His blog is There’s nothing wrong with liking American Japanese. I think it’s better to be a little adventurous rather than completely limited in your dining palate. My husband still eats at American Chinese places when I’m not around.

  7. You should go try this new sushi place in the LIttle Italy area called Shino Sushi. SOOOO good!!! For a new sushi restaurant the reviews on yelp and the number of regulars they already have is amazing! They have some pretty creative rolls too!

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