I have been meaning to post about Kastu, but have had trouble getting the tone of my post right. I have a tendency to gush about places I like and my prior Katsu drafts were a bit over the top. On the surface Katsu is a Japanese restaurant run by a personable Japanese owner/chef for a largely Japanese clientele, but lurking just beneath the surface, in the form of a specials menu, are a number of interesting, eclectic and delicious offerings.
I have only been to Katsu twice, the first time I sat at the sushi bar and had the pleasure of, not only the company of interesting and friendly fellow patrons, but incredibly flavorful sashimi, nigiri and maki. A few of the highlights were the beautifully marbled toro, both full-on otoro and medium toro, baby yellowtail that simply melted in my mouth and, possibly, the richest salmon I have ever had the pleasure of tasting. There were also a few slightly over the top touches such as salmon nigiri topped with salmon eggs and a touch of gold leaf and toro chopped with green onion served gunboat maki style with a topping of gold leaf.
A few nights later my wife and I sampled a number of the daily (weekly?) specials menu. While my wife enjoys maki and the occasional piece or two of nigiri she is not as keen on sashimi, so I was a bit surprised when she suggested a special of Katsus Sashimi Carpaccio, though she is a fan of Italian style carpaccio. Katsus Sashimi Carpaccio was a beautifully decorated plate of fresh as a daisy tuna, flounder, salmon along with artfully placed avocado, baby greens and a few raspberry and blueberries all dressed lightly in modern art squiggles of two kinds of accent sauces. This was a great dish, both visually and flavor wise and my wifes favorite of the evening.
We also had a, seldom seen in Chicago, Chawan Mushi, which is a savory egg custard. Katsut version, that evening, contained eel, shrimp, chicken and shitake mushroom. This was a great dish, smooth, savory, rich, and yet light at the same time. We both enjoyed this immensely, in fact, we almost ordered a second. The other dish I should mention was the duck saiko grill. Duck breast marinated in miso, grilled rare and sliced on the bias. Tender, flavorful and perfectly grilled. Ok, one more, Fresh Flounder Karaage. This was as visually interesting as it was delicious. The flounder flesh was stripped from the fish, cut in pieces and deep-fried while the rest of the fish, head, tail, bones, were shaped into a bowl and deep-fried. The flounder pieces were served in the fish body bowl along with a baby greens and ponzu dipping sauce.
I have to credit my friend Andy with telling me about Katsu. Andy is one of the more adventurous and well-rounded Chowhounds I know and his recommendations are typically right on the mark. I should also mention for the fans of the long shuttered Ya Na Se, Katsu was the sushi chef at Ya Ne Se before opening his own place 12-years ago. Speaking of Ya Na Se fans, I remembered that Mike G was a long time fan of Ya Na Se and emailed him off list as soon as I tried Katsu. Mike has been to Katsu, I am really looking forward to reading his review.
Katsus listed hours are 5pm to midnight, closed Tuesday, but I believe they take the last food order at 10:30pm. I would suggest calling before going after 10pm. Katsu has a full range of sake, beer and some hard liquor.
Katsu Japanese Restaurant
2651 W Peterson Ave
Chicago, IL. 60659
5pm Midnight, closed Tuesday