If Zen decor—trickling waterfalls, smooth bamboo surfaces—is essential to your enjoyment of a Japanese restaurant, Katsuno isn’t for you. This Forest Hills newcomer has all the atmosphere of your therapist’s waiting room, with industrial floor tiles, harsh lighting and a soundtrack that’s more synth-pop than lutes and drums. Chef-owner Katsuyuki Seo (who also operates Seo in midtown) has clearly funneled his energy into where it ought to be: the kitchen. There, he conjures some of borough’s most impressive, finely wrought Japanese cuisine—authentic, modern preparations he honed working in the kitchens of Tokyo. Simple, clean flavors mark Seo’s best efforts: The single custardy egg that was the showpiece of a $4 onsen tamago starter (onsen refers to the hot springs in which the egg is traditionally slow-poached) arrived in a cool bath of delicate bonito broth. Another pristine appetizer offered a refreshing tangle of yuzu-drizzled greens topped with thick folds of raw salmon, capers and sprigs of dill; on the side were generous mounds of golden uni balanced on sturdy, pleasingly bitter petals of endive. At the suggestion of our waitress—an effusive, smiling woman, and the small dining room’s only attendant—we went off-menu for an entre of inaniwa udon, a rare imported wheat noodle from the Akita prefecture. She presented the ethereal strands in another chilled dashi—a warm soup would detract from the noodles’ smooth, springy texture, she said. But despite all of this dogged attention to quality, most patrons on the night we visited seemed to stick with the more familiar menu items: sushi, mercifully devoid of any “Godzilla”-style creations. “We do it for the neighborhood,” offered the diplomatic waitress, confirming that Katsuno’s real draw is the kitchen—not the sushi bar. Resist the seduction of that spicy tuna roll—there’s satori on the other side.
103-01 Metropolitan Ave
|Cross street:||at 71st Rd|
|Opening hours:||Tue–Fri noon–2pm, 5:30–10pm; Sat 5–10pm; Sun 5–9pm|
|Transport:||Subway: E, F, V, G, R to Forest Hills–71st Ave|
|Price:||Average main course: $26. AmEx, MC, V|
|Do you own this business?|