Rewarding Risk

A St. Paul Newcomer Raises the Sushi Bar

One of the complaints I've heard from people who work near Katsu is that the place is pricey. I think it only seems like it is in comparison to places that have those budget $9 sushi lunches that are so meager you always feel compelled to add pieces; meanwhile, Katsu Sushi's katsu don is an almost overwhelming amount of food for $7.50, and the best version I've ever had. Katsu don is basically Japanese comfort food of the comfiest variety: It's a pork cutlet, fried, sliced, and served with an egg sauce over rice. In its worst versions, it's dry and incoherent. But here the eggy, scrambly, sweet, and chunky sauce unites the pork with a layer of tangy bamboo shoots and saucy rice, and the whole thing is just rich and reminded me of everything good about schnitzel and veal parmigiana. Remember veal parmigiana? I barely do, but I remember when I was about ten liking it a lot. The katsu don here provides the exact same experience. You know, I bet if they added a tempeh katsu the vegetarian world would beat a path to their door.

Actually, if I know anything about restaurants, I'd bet a couple of little tweaks could get this undeservedly quiet restaurant really humming: Candles on the tables, better organization of the too-long dinner menu (I didn't notice the oshinko pickle side dish or the nameko mushroom miso soup until I sat down to write this piece), one of those too-sparse $9 sushi lunches that come with soup and salad, and clearer highlighting of the vegetarian dishes. Then again, what do I know about restaurants, anyway? I've never run one. Hell, I never even had a childhood lemonade stand. But like I said, a little knowledge isn't just a dangerous thing--it's utterly captivating to its possessor.

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