In the last few years, New York City's west side has undergone a massive face lift, both architecturally and culturally.
From the rise of the brand new neighborhood Hudson Yards came new soaring skyscrapers, luxury stores and high-end restaurants that brought new life and commerce into a part of NYC that desperately needed some love.
In that wave of construction and expansion came one particular restaurant group with a chef with a storied history on the west coast. Katsuya is one of the staples of Los Angeles and Las Vegas, and Chef Katsuya Uechi has garnered global acclaim for his Japanese delicacies and ingredients that seamlessly blend traditional recipes and techniques with a distinctly modern twist.
On the heels of his latest restaurant opening, Katsuya NYC, we spoke with Chef Uechi about what it was like moving to NYC and setting up his first East Coast outpost.
What was the biggest difference opening a Katsuya in NYC compared to the LA restaurants?
New York is one of the largest cities in the world, and we dedicated lots of time to the menu. Our team and I created a special dish and added more of a Japanese traditional influence to the menu.
What was the biggest challenge you faced opening in a new market?
Our biggest challenge was opening during the pandemic. Construction was already underway leading into it, but the biggest impact was building and hiring our on-site staff. In the end, we’re thrilled to have assembled a team that resembles the world’s best.
You mentioned the new dish and more traditional menu approach. Are there other ways this NYC location will be different from the ones in LA?
Yes, of course! While each Katsuya features some of the world’s top culinary talent, we make sure that each location is uniquely different from the next, from décor or regionally-inspired menu items.
For example, in New York, we have access to a wider variety of ingredients than our other locations, so that’s definitely reflected in our menu, and unlike our other locations, Katsuya New York is adjoined to an innovative cocktail lounge; S Bar. Helmed by acclaimed mixologist Yael Vengroff, the menu is built around crafting visually stunning, Katsuya-inspired cocktails that combine simple spirits with unexpected ingredients, like aloe vera, yuzu tonic and umami bitters.
Are there any other menu items specific to the NY location?
Yes! While the menu features Katsuya-classics like crispy rice and popcorn shrimp, we also have a few new items specific to New York, like the hiramasa wara yaki, spiced beef toban, Manhattan maki and A5 Wagyu sukiyaki.
How do you go about sourcing your ingredients for the NYC location?
Rather than what to do, the important key is how to handle ingredients and create new dishes the way we envisioned.
What do you hope diners take away from their experience at Katsuya?
I’ve created a menu that translates classic Japanese cuisine to the American palate, offering traditional flavors and techniques with a California spin. At the end of the day, my priority is creating fresh, delicious concepts that guests keep coming back for. My hope is that diners enjoy a relaxing yet unique experience at Katsuya; one that celebrates Japanese cuisine in a comfortable and approachable way.
Visit Katsuya NYC at 398 10th Ave. in Manhattan or online to learn more.
Photography by: Courtesy of Katsuya NYC