Recently, I was fortunate to be invited by Tori Allen PR to dine with other food journalists at Katana Teppanyaki, Buckhead’s brand new sushi and teppanyaki grill, from Mali Hu, the owner of The One Sushi +. LC was my guest as we sampled our way through a carefully curated tasting menu.
Restaurants like Benihana popularized the teppanyaki style of cooking in the ’80s. Unfortunately, like most national chains, they produce cookie-cutter cuisine and serve sugary, pedestrian cocktails, so their attempt at Japanese food seemed unauthentic at best.
Unlike Benihana, Katana has an impressive craft cocktail program. An edited menu of artisan wines and cocktails awaited us at our table. I often order nigori sake with Japanese food and although it wasn’t on our special menu, the manager was kind enough to bring me a bottle called Evoluzione, a light, milky unfiltered sake. LC ordered a specialty cocktail on our list called Correl. Made with Lunazul Reposado tequila, ancho chili liqueur, ginger, Angostura Bitters, and lemon, it was like a spicy margarita.
Our hosts started off the table with an amuse bouche of diced tuna with Asian pear, lime, chili oil, tapioca pearl, and coconut broth. All of those flavors together sound amazing, however, I couldn’t taste anything but tuna. I requested more of the dressing but instead they brought out a second serving which was equally flavorless.
On with the show! Our chef of the evening began to prepare the grill with oil. He spilled a vibrant green pile of edamame onto the hot surface while another server delivered tiny ceramic bowls of sea salt for dipping. Me and LC loved the charred flavor of the soybeans.
Next the chef displayed his knife skills by grilling some shrimp, flipping them into the air and cutting off their tails for serving with a yuzu vinaigrette. Although salads and soups normally come with the teppanyaki grill experience, we did not get samples of them.
However, we did get samples of three specialty entrees; scallops in cilantro jalapeno emulsion, Chilean sea bass flavored with tentsuyu, ginger, and sizzling sesame oil, and custom aged New York strip loin with truffle onion mushroom puree. It sounds daunting but for some odd reason LC and I could have eaten another round of everything, perhaps because we weren’t served the filling rice and vegetables that usually accompany teppanyaki diners’ protein selections. Instead we ordered a second round of cocktails, the Correl for both of us.
We sipped our cocktails and chatted, waiting for the dessert to come…ice cream tempura. Katana coats a big scoop of its homemade macha ice cream with a mixture of pound cake crumbs and granola, then flash fries it. The desserts were elegantly presented in red bento boxes with frozen berries and cream, but apparently, not delivered in a timely fashion as the ice cream was completely melted inside the hot crust. Flavor was great, just wish they had been brought them out more quickly.
Open only a short time when we visited, I’m confident the minor missteps were merely due to serving three large media groups. I will return for the full teppanyaki experience including the scallops in their herbaceous and subtly spicy cilantro jalapeno emulsion and the delicate sea bass, two of the most delectable seafood dishes in recent memory. Oishii!
3345 Lenox Road NE 404-869-1888