This new Japanese restaurant is kid-friendly

I am not a big fan of raw sushi so reviewing Abu Dhabi’s newest Japanese restaurant comes with trepidation.

My plan is to play it safe and fill up on fully cooked options like miso-marinated black cod or beef filet but the professionals at Katsuya by Starck nudge me out of my comfort zone.  

Katsuya is inspired by Master Chef Katsuya Uechi’s innovative take on Japanese cuisine and designed by Philippe Starck. The interior fuses bold art pieces with natural elements to create a warm, comfortable environment. There’s a mix of seating arrangements from traditional booths to wooden tables along an open-air strip, which feels like a terrace. We find our spot at a table with a combination of high back chairs and a plush leather sofa – the perfect setup for dining with kids.  

Katsuya features four speciality kitchens including the liquid kitchen, cold kitchen, sushi kitchen and hot kitchen, which our server patiently guides us through when ordering. The menu is quite expansive offering modified versions of classic Japanese dishes. 

We start with a brightly coloured bowl of warm, lightly salted edamame and seared tuna tacos served with Japanese salsa, cilantro and avocado puree. The crispy chicken salad, which mixes rice noodles, wonton crisps and shredded chicken is drizzled with vinaigrette for a sweet, refreshing taste. I am mindful not to over indulge though as the portion size is for sharing.   

When it comes to sushi rolls, Katsuya’s speciality rolls do not disappoint. The Hollywood roll is comprised of shrimp tempura, kanikama (imitation crab meat), avocado and cucumber topped with spicy albacore for a mild kick. The staff isn’t afraid to go a little off script, either. Understanding my aversion to raw options, the server delivers a custom creation with a generous topping of dynamite shrimp over a spider roll, which combines soft-shell crab, cucumber, avocado and ponzu. 

Katsuya’s skilled mixologists provide unique concoctions to complement the meal. Drinks like strawberry fields, composed of hand-crushed strawberries, cucumber and freshly pressed basil, finished with a splash of seltzer and lemon juice, quench our thirst. Katsuika, a blend of watermelon and ginger, is another refreshing favourite.  

The kids’ corner of the menu satisfies young diners with a choice of sushi, chicken or New York steak teriyaki in child-sized portions. In addition to the main, bites of California roll, vegetable and shrimp tempura are served on a striking bento style tray. The meal comes to a sweet end with scoops of chocolate and vanilla ice cream garnished with strawberries and toffee crumbles. 

Katsuya by Starck provides a comfortable environment for families to enjoy Japanese cuisine. With a wide variety of menu options and accommodating staff, Katsuya meets the expectations of those who love sushi as well as others with a developing palette. 

Need to Know

Location: Katsuya by Starck, Yas Mall
We say: Japanese fine dining for the whole family
Cost: AED 600 for four
Opening times: Sat-Wed 10am-10pm, Thu and Fri 10am-midnight
Contact: 02 492 6660, katsuyarestaurant.com

WORDS Tamara Clarke

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