Saw Tomi Harase (Cafe Blanc) working at Katsu-ya Encino last night at the Encino location. He told me that as of last night, he will now be dedicated at the Encino location - full time (Tuesdays - Saturdays) generally for both lunch and dinner. They take a break in between - so they are closed between 2-5:30 ish. Unfortunately, I did not see him until I was 3/4 done with my meal selections so did not know to order anything else directly from him. So I asked him if he was allowed to his Cafe Blanc style "omakase" menus here at this location and he said yes, just call in advance and let him know. I hope the folks in the valley appreciate how very talented this chef is.
I did notice the dessert menu changes that seemed in Tomi's style- and asked him if he had a hand in that... yes, he said quietly, obviously proud to see that I had noticed. I wanted to have them all but could not, so on the suggestion of one of the sushi chefs, I ordered the Kabocha Japanese Pumpkin Flan with a dark caramel sauce. It was so very light, not overly sweet - keeping the kabocha flavors and texture in tact.
Can't wait to make my next reservation just for Tomi's omakase. Will need to ask if its ok to bring own wine to compliment his food(they have wine a cabernet or chardonnay or sake and beer).
Overall the room was nice, got a little crazy/crowded and had to wait about 30 minutes (w/o reservation - my bad) but got a seat at the sushi bar anyway. Had a pretty adept sushi chef by the name of Yamada-san. Nice, very fresh cuts of sashimi. Can't comment on service as the wait staff is fairly new.
KASTU-YA (New Encino Location)
16542 Ventura Blvd., Encino, 818-788-2396.
Just a bit west of Havenhurst at Ventura. Next door to the Baja Fresh.