Sushi Katsuei

Usuzukuri from Sushi Katsuei

When I think sushi—good sushi—Park Slope definitely isn’t the first (or second or third or eighth) neighborhood that comes to mind. But when I read about Sushi Katsuei—Michelin-recommended, and identified by The Infatuation as the home of the best sushi in Brooklyn—I figured it just might be worth a try. So one Sunday night, when the few nut-free Japanese restaurants that were open didn’t have anything available for three, I made my way to 7th Avenue, with Sam and my dad in tow.

Of course, before showing up, I called to make sure Sushi Katsuei was suitably nut-free. Everything I’d read had sounded promising, and I couldn’t really imagine nuts showing up in an omakase, but I’m not about to bet my life on an assumption, so I asked. Twice. And both times, I was told that Sushi Katsuei doesn’t use any tree nuts (or peanuts) in any of their food. So, while they aren’t explicitly nut-free, they’re close enough for me

When Sam and I arrived, we decided to sit at the bar (which is omakase-only). My dad was maybe 5 minutes late, but by the time he got there, we’d already been sorta-hounded by multiple servers to, you know, order. The restaurant wasn’t particularly crowded, so I’m not really sure why the urgency, but when my dad arrived and we finally placed our order, everyone chilled the fuck out, thank God.

We went with the omakase that included both sushi and sashimi, because why not—and we (well, I) got some usuzukuri, too (pictured at the top of this post). The usuzukuri was good—I especially appreciated the scallions, though I could’ve used some more—but it was hard to pay attention to the dish with such a well-reviewed omakase looming.

Tuna sashimi and an oyster from Sushi Katsuei

But as soon as the usuzukuri was gone, the omakase ceased to loom; our sashimi platters had arrived, and it was time to eat. The selection included fluke, Spanish mackerel, squid, chutoro, and—get this—an oyster, and, for the most part, it was pretty good.

The fluke, which had a little salt on top, was nice and fresh, though a little bland—but the mackerel, scallion-topped, was surprisingly tasty. I also really liked the squid, which was cut into strips and coated with spicy cod roe. It was just chewy enough (which is, I guess, what I always say about squid I like), and the roe added a nice, subtle heat to the whole ordeal.

The chutoro (pictured above, on the left), was very underwhelming, though, and the oyster (above on the right)…well, it made me reach for my water. It tasted too much of the sea, even for an oyster, and it was filled with debris. Not so great, then. (Not for me, at least. Not for me.)

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So the sashimi was a little hit-or-miss. Fine. But I still had hope for the sushi—which turned out to be much better, on the whole. There were quite a few pieces I couldn’t identify, though, so bear with me as I try to write about my ever-important opinions.

Two of the first pieces were yellowtail and sea bream (both pictured above, the former on the left and the latter on the right). Both were good, but I preferred the sea bream, if only because it wasn’t topped with anything (but salt!). I almost always prefer my sushi unadulterated, but Katsuei’s chefs are really big on topping their fish with this, that, or the other thing. As offenders go, Katsuei isn’t as egregious as, say, Sushi of Gari—but as the tasting went on, I found myself wishing I could get some plain, soy-brushed (or perhaps salt-topped) fish.

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We also had some otoro (left) and some Hokkaido uni (right, duh)—and frankly, neither was all that great. The otoro, while fine, was exactly as underwhelming as the chutoro (and to tell you the truth, I didn’t quite believe it was otoro), and the uni, while tasty at first, had an overbearingly bitter aftertaste, which definitely didn’t help things.

But forget those two pieces. My two favorite bites of the night were the salmon (below, left) and the torched something-or-other (below, right). The salmon, sufficiently, fatty, was topped with some sort of sesame-tasting nori-ish business, and I loved it—not despite its topping, but because of it. And the torched whatever was supremely buttery—not to mention the fact that it was garnished with the only topping I might just love unconditionally: scallions (!!!). So good.

Salmon and an unidentified piece of sushi from Sushi Katsuei

Anyway. While the the meal was certainly a little inconsistent, quality-wise, I did enjoy myself at Sushi Katsuei. The good bites were good enough to carry me through the bad ones—and the bad ones weren’t bad so much as disappointing, really. Our servers were doting, our chef was jovial, and the atmosphere, while not all that nice, was nice enough. So I had a fine time—and perhaps I’ll even return.

Find Sushi Katsuei in Park Slope, at 210 7th Avenue (between 2nd and 3rd Streets).

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