Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Feed Us Well and All Is Forgiven

Margy and I love Katsuhama in NYC. What's not to love in a restaurant that specializes in deep-fried pork?

Tonight the service was terrible, and you know what? I didn't mind. We were one of maybe five tables, but we couldn't get our waiter's attention to order another beer. No problem; I just sipped at Margy's remainder until relief finally came. When the food arrived and we noted the absence of the little Japanese pickles that accompany the entrees -- even though the next table had them -- we had to ask for some. That's cool; seconds later we were nibbling away. And my ego can handle having a waiter assume I'm unfamiliar with basic food vocabulary.

Me: How's the prawn katsu?

Him: Prawns are shrimp.

It's not like we were kept waiting for hours or were served cold pork. In fact, I'm not even officially complaining that the first words we heard upon entering the restaurant were, "You're looking for sushi?" See, Katsuhama doesn't serve sushi, but I can't really blame the host for presuming that every non-Japanese person who walks through the door expects to see sushi on the menu. I'm sure it becomes exhausting to deal with that on a daily basis.

Anyway, part of the charm of the place is that it doesn't try to mimic most Japanese restaurants in the States by offering an enormous blanket menu. Katsuhama specializes in the fine art of greaseless frying, and to achieve such a high standard, focus is essential. It's hard to be all things to all people.

I'm just saying that every other time we've been to Katsuhama we've noticed a very friendly, capable staff, and this was a notch below. Whatever. I'm one of those diners that can easily ignore shoddy service as long as the food is good (and as long as we're not paying ridiculous prices to eat it).

And again, at Katsuhama the food is great. I tried the pork-and-prawn combo, which was the first time I'd deviated from the straight-up pork cutlet. I was elated. See those shrimp-looking things? Those are prawns.

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