A trip to Hudson Yards—the newly developed neighborhood on the west side of Manhattan—simultaneously feels like a journey through an anonymous town and one across any generic American city.
That vagueness ends up hurting a lot of the local eateries. Part of the pleasure of dining at an NYC restaurant involves feeling like you're a part of, well, NYC. At the neighborhood’s anchor destinations, the food is excellent but the ambiance and everything that comes along with it is subpar.
That all makes the delightfulness that is a meal at Katsuya, the new Japanese restaurant that opened inside Citizens culinary market at Hudson Yards, that much more surprising.
After all, Katsuya is a West Coast staple—a transplant from Los Angeles. You might wonder: How could an eatery that has defined LA’s dining scene for over a decade, actually feel so New York in an area of the city that feels so removed from the city’s character?
The crowd has lots to do with that. Whereas other area restaurants seem to be filled with uninteresting people that want to be looked at, Katsuya feels like the opposite: a destination for interesting people that doesn't care if you think they’re interesting. They, perhaps, are too busy enjoying the solid Japanese fare—and we don’t blame them.
Usual culinary suspects make up the menu, from a yellowtail jalapeno starter and gyozas to chef Katsuya Uechi's signature spicy tuna crispy rice and a dish of crispy Brussel sprouts that have become staple of the Japanese cuisines outside of Japan.
But it’s the fish that is the most remarkable here. Regular sushi rolls are complemented by a solid list of specials that hit the palate right. Diners into a more "authentic" sushi experience will also be delighted to know that horse mackerel—which seems an elusive order at other local Japanese eateries—is actually available at Katsuya.
The restaurant’s signature cocktails are spins on classics, like the Sahara Tent, a take on the margarita with yuzu kosho and fino sherry. Although enticing to adventurous palates, the idea to swap a Manhattan for something that resembles a Manhattan might not strike all patrons’ fancies—including this one’s. I ended up ordering a classic Bee’s Knees and am happy to report that, unlike other restaurant bars around town, the one at Katsuya is manned by proper bartenders who serve some mean cocktails.
Alas, New York is filled with top-notch sushi restaurants and, although a trip to Hudson Yards isn’t necessarily required, knowing that Katsuya is in the area should be enough of a reason to visit.