103-01 Metropolitan Avenue
Forest Hills, NY 11375
It's so very rare that my home nabe of Forest Hills gets props for its dining scene that once I saw that Katsuno, on Metropolitan Avenue, was awarded New York City's Best New Japanese Restaurant by Time Out Magazine, I knew I had to go.... And a year and a half later, I finally did. A year and a half lost, I must say, because Katsuno was indeed very good.
When I went, on a blisteringly cold Sunday night, it was... not crowded. And Katsuno is small. Maybe twelve tables. The interior is bright and clean and jazz plays over the room. The only thing about Katsuno that feels cheap (because with some appetizers in the teens, the price isn't) are those paper Sapporo/Asahi ads you see on the tables of every ten-cent sushi bar.
Pike met me on the other side of one of those Asahi ads and, over piping hot cups of fresh green tea, we looked over the menu, debating what to order. Most Japanese restaurants are basically sushi bars that will occasionally deep fry some cauliflower or shrimp for you. That isn't the case here. There is sushi, to be sure, but Katsuno is more of a restaurant. Sliced steaks and big bowls of noodle soup are the name of the game and I for one think it's nice to be able to get something other than a California roll every now and then.
As a starter, I ordered the Octopus with Cucumber Vinaigrette and a vegetarian Plum and Pellira Roll. The octopus was light almost to the point of floating off the plate and out the door. The only thing holding it on the plate was the cucumber. Pike and I both liked it, but it might be too soft for people who are used to their food fighting you for dominance of your tongue. The plum roll was not great. It was at first sweet, but with a bitter aftertaste. I wanted different, which I got, but ended up wishing I got something more tried and true, like eel. I also had a bowl of Katsuno's thick Miso Soup. Normally, one orders miso soup and it's pretty much a bowl of water with some scallions floating timidly within. Not so much here. It's no stew, but Katsuno doesn't skimp on the miso. Pike ordered the Grilled Lightly Salted Chicken, which was far and away the best appetizer of them all. It was ultra-tender with a hint of char. Pike felt that there was more salt than he would have preferred, but I differed, thinking it was just fine.
When it's all of ten degrees out it makes sense to get soup, so Pike's dinner was a large bowl of Thinly Sliced Duck Over Udon in Warm Soup. The broth was sweet, the noodles were thick and the duck had nary an ounce of fat. We liked it, and I'm pretty sure that you will also. My entree was the Grilled Miso Marinated Beef, served with an assortment of roast winter vegetables. I was not asked how I wanted the beef cooked and it came medium rare (the way it should). The miso marinade lent a salty crust-like texture to the outer part of the meat which I've never had before and didn't dislike. My only complaint was that it had been left to cool too long before it was served. Still, I liked it a lot.
Our bill came to $82 including tax and tip. Katsuno is closed on Monday.
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