Katsuei, located in the space located at the northwest corner of Seventh Ave. and Third St., soft-opened on Monday. We visited on Wednesday night. Completely redesigned since its Casa Ventura days, the space is done in shades of white, right down to the pickled wood beams overhead.
There is a two-station sushi bar and about a dozen tables. We were directed to sit at the sushi bar and presented with an abbreviated "soft-opening" menu, consisting of three omakase choices, three soups and several appetizers. Omakase choices included a "miniature" omakase of six pieces plus a roll for $25, a regular omakase and a deluxe omakase with appetizer.
We chose a red miso/mushroom soup, a salad and a chicken appetizer and the miniature omakase. The sushi chef, who has more than 20 years of experience at various Manhattan sushi outposts, was beyond generous in his choices for us. Highlights included a Japanese red snapper (madai), a squid, a seared tuna, uni, a fatty tuna roll and a few others whose identity I cannot recall. The ingredients were all impressively fresh and even more impressively prepared. The chef used several sauces in place of the traditional soy, including a house-made ginger dressing, Japanese sea salt, a wasabi-infused dressing and a marinated seaweed dressing. We were given soy only for the fatty tuna roll.
Omakase dinner options are available at a few other Park Slope Japanese restaurants, including Geido. But, I found Katsuei's omakase delightful, generous, and fresh and our interactions with the chef added to the experience.
Katsuei is not yet licensed to serve alcohol and has not determined whether BYO will be permitted. The menu says "cash only", but they have installed a credit card machine, which gave the hostess some problems when we attempted to pay. There is little to indicate that the address is the home of a Japanese restaurant, save for a small sign in the window and a view of the sushi bar from the window. In a neighborhood replete with Japanese restaurants, including two within two blocks, Katsuei's owners are going to have to make an extra effort to attract Park Slope's fickle crowds. I'm going to step out on a limb here and say that Katsuei, along with Geido, represents the best there is and recommend it very highly. A full menu, including non-sushi items, a la carte sushi and sushi combinations, will be introduced next week.
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