Katsuno in Queens
If Katsuno were merely the best Japanese restaurant in Queens, it would be noteworthy. But the Metropolitan Avenue and 71st Road izakaya/sushi/noodle bar is destination-worthy. Chef Katsyuki Seo and his wife Yuka wanted to bring the same quality cuisine as is offered at their eponymous Seo Restaurant on 49th Street in Manhattan to the Forest Hills neighborhood that they make their home.
For starters, the salmon/uni salad is Jewish meets Japanese as the salmon, onions, and capers could easily have come from Barney Greengrass while the uni finds a crunchy home nestled in endive. The sushi and sashimi are pristine shrimp, crab, tomago, mackerel, ikura, uni, tako, and unagi all masterfully sliced.
But it was the prepared dishes that really wowed me, namely the duck, pork, and beef. First was a magret duck salad, the perfect pink breast slices topped with garlic vied with the accompanying greens, which camouflaged more meaty duck bits. The wagyu beef tataki was seared and covered with raw and caramelized onions and scallions wading in beef juices.
The fried breaded pork filet mignon (tonkatsu) transported me back to Tokyo for my favorite non-sushi dish. The shrimp and crab tempura shattered like glass when bitten. The beautiful, tiny room filled with local Japanese families on a Sunday evening was made even cozier by the extensive sake list and the incredibly gracious hostess, Mrs. Seo. Metropolitan Avenue in Forest Hills, home to Katsuno, Chalet Alpina, Dee's, Danny Brown's, and Eddie's Sweet Shop (not to mention nearby D'Angelo's and Dominick's hot dog trucks) can give Smith Street in Brooklyn a run for the money in terms of great restaurants and variety.