Katsuno: A Japanese Gem in Forest Hills

Today’s restaurant review comes from a Japanese restaurant, Katsuno, a cute little gem located in Forest Hills. With a minimal Kyoto-style storefront and little to no signage, it’s easy to pass by without noticing. But don’t let its modest looks deceive you, inside you’ll find some of the best Japanese home cooking outside of Japan from the husband and wife duo, Katsuyuki and Yuka Seo, who have owned and operated this quaint Japanese eatery since November 2008.

With twelve years of strict training at the elegant restaurant Neboke in Tokyo, and twenty years of working in New York City, ten of which he owned his own place in Midtown, Katsuyuki and Yuka, decided to bring their home cooking to Queens, an area of New York that is lacking in authentic Japanese cuisine.

Katsuyuki starts preparing for their dinners at nine o’clock every morning and works until two. Their menu is simple, with not much description to the dishes, but what comes out is always a delicious surprise to the customers. The restaurant received accolades for the cold onsen poached egg in Time Out Magazine’s Eat Out Awards. The eggs are slowly cooked at 140 degrees for forty minutes, and what comes out is a silken egg custard suspended in his special dashi broth.

Specials change every three weeks, but what remains a constant favorite is the squid and celery salad with salmon roe $15, and the entrée of grilled miso marinated beef $24.

How did you and your husband get into the restaurant business?
My husband, Katsuyuki, trained at Neboke in Tokyo in the strict old style of kitchen cooking for about twelve years. He has been a chef his entire life. He has been working as a chef in New York for about twenty years. We owned our own restaurant in Midtown for about ten years before we opened this one in Forest Hills.

How long has Katsuno been opened?
Katsuno opening in November 2008. So it’s been open for about a year and eight months now.

What kind of Japanese food do you serve at Katsuno?
In Japan, every restaurant specializes in one thing. For example, if you want to have sushi, you go to a restaurant that only serves sushi. If you want udon, you would go to a different restaurant. However, being in America, we have to do everything to please the customer. We have “izakaya”, which are small plates to share; we offer sushi, and udon and soba noodles as well. In Japan it is a custom to have the izakaya first with drinks. After drinking and sharing plates, you finally finish with udon or soba noodles.

What are the most popular dishes?
The grilled miso marinated beef is very popular. The squid and celery salad with salmon roe is also popular. Katsuyuki makes his own special dressing for the salads, which is always a surprise to customers. They had no idea, and we like that our customers are surprised by the special things that we do with preparing our dishes. Our seasonal specials change every three weeks.

How many people do you have working in the kitchen?
We have two to three people in the kitchen, but my husband is still the chef.