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Katsuya @ The SLS South Beach

Dining in any restaurant is always a fun experience, but dining at a high end restaurant is always my favourite.  When in South Beach, I always go a little insane and spend way too much money eating in deliciously expensive places and loving every minute of it.  This last trip down to the sunny beaches of Miami, I joined my friend at one of his favourite South Beach spots, Katsuya in the SLS hotel.  

Arriving on time for our reservations, even though we got a little confused on the way, the over friendly staff at Katsuya greeted us with the traditional Japanese greeting, "Irasshaimase," and seated us at our table.  I was surprised by the greeting as I am used to the welcoming screams at more casual Izakaya's but not at such an upscale place.  I enjoyed it though as it made the staff and restaurant seem more down to earth rather than stuck up and pretentious.  

As soon as we sat down, our waiter and busboy arrived to offer us water and one of their specialty cocktails.  We ordered up a few to start, I had the Kiwi Envy while my friend who had dined here before (a few times to say the least), had the Burning Mandarin.  Our other dining guest enjoyed a glass of white wine.  After ordering our drinks, it was time to conquer the menu and decide what we were going to order.

The kiwi Envy made up of St. Germain Elderflower liqueur, gin, fresh pressed kiwis, lime juice and a splash of sparkling water, was sweet refreshing and perfectly delicious.  I truly enjoyed this cocktail all evening, I think I had four in total.  
The Burning Mandarin was spicy, sweet and also a delicious treat.  You can tell the pride that Katsuya's bartenders take in concocting their signature cocktails.  

After careful consideration, we opted not to order the tasting menu and just order dishes a la carte.  We started with the crispy rice with spicy tuna, one of Katsuyta's signature appetizers.  The grilled rice was very flavourful and topped with fresh delicious tuna and spicy jalapeños.  This dish was three bites of pure perfection, we all really enjoyed it.

As we finished our first bites, another Katsuya signature appetizer arrived, the baked crab hand rolls.  I for one was very excited for these and well, they really did not disappoint.  The hand rolls were over stuffed with big chunks of deliciously fresh and tasty crab meat.  The special dynamite sauce was not spicy but perfectly flavoured and complimented the sweet crab beautifully.  This dish was also truly delicious and enjoyed by all at our table.

Next came the Special Katsuya roll.  As a signature and special roll named after the restaurant, we all had high hopes but were quickly disappointed.  The roll was beautifully presented but tasteless and plain old boring.  We all agreed that this roll was not what we expected and the weak point of the dinner.

It was around this time that the table next to us caused a minor disturbance.  We were enjoying our meal, but a hooligan at the next table started to go ballistic on his date.  We were amused by this disturbance but truly it was uncalled for and embarrassing at such an upscale restaurant.  We laughed it off and joked about it for the rest of the night.  Never a dull moment!

The next dish was yet another sushi roll but this one was really something amazing.  A deliciously fresh spicy tuna roll topped with crispy rock shrimp tossed in a spicy creamy sauce - Ah-mazing!  The shrimps were really the star of this dish and could have been served alone, but on top of the spicy tuna roll, perfection!

As we munched on all the appetizers, we ordered another round of drinks.  As we sat sipping our delicious cocktails, our mains started to arrive.  First came a life changing dish, the Wagyu beef with seared foie gras drizzled with a plum wine reduction.  Three perfectly plated delicious bites of Wagyu were placed in front of us and we immediately dug right in.  My first bite can only be described in one word; Orgasmic.  I can truly say that this dish blew my mind.  

The tender butter-like rare cooked beef was complimented perfectly by the subtle sweetness of the reduction and earthy depth of the foie - perfection!  I really wished that this dish wouldn't end, I would have gladly ate bite after bite all night.  Sadly, all good things do come to an end.

As we sat recuperating from the tremendous food orgasm we just consumed, a delicately plated Miso marinated black cod was set in front of us.  It was the perfect dish to follow the Wagyu.  The cod was delicate and light with the perfect balance of flavours. 

After the black cod, the pièce de résistance arrived, a very large wood cutting board carefully decorated with a delicious and fresh assortment of sashimi.  Delectable bites of Toro, sweet shrimp, fried shrimp heads, yellowtail tuna, sea urchin and more entered our bellies quite quickly.  Every bite was well enjoyed except for one bite of toro, there was some chewiness issue but that was quickly forgotten as we bit into the sea urchin - Uni!

As our plates were cleared and as our forth round of drinks vanished, it was time to consider ordering a sweet treat to end the meal.  I for one am not a sweets lover, but the mention of a doughnut, I cannot resist.  Fresh and hot little doughnuts drizzled with a passion fruit caramel glaze and salted with flakes of sea salt was the perfect way to end a wonderful meal.  I truly enjoyed every bite of our meal at Katsuya, not to mention the attentive and friendly service.  I cannot wait till next year when I can return and enjoy yet another scrumptious feast!
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