Japanese cuisine is known and loved for its abundance of seafood, vegetables and rice. The Dining Divas headed to the Sagamore Park Center on Sagamore Parkway in West Lafayette (in the former location of Heisei near Payless) where Katana Sushi & Ramen promises authentic Japanese cuisine. Customers can eat in the elegant and modern dining room, order out, use one of the private meeting spaces, or sit at the sushi bar enjoying a cocktail from the full bar. This space used to have low tables and cushions and you left your shoes at the door. The owners of Katana installed Western-style tables and chairs so there’s no need to touch up your pedicure before dining there.
The Divas opted for the quiet dining room, which started filling up as we ordered. Our guest, raw seafood eater, Julia Zuchkov, standing in for Margy, joined the other seafood (preferably cooked) eater, Kay, vegetarian (with some fish) Jo, and meat-eater Bev. There was something to please everyone on Katana’s menu.
We started with an order of chicken karagge (pronounced kara-ah-geh) ($6.95) and an order of spicy edamame ($4.95). Karagge is a technique of making fried chicken or fish by marinating with soy, ginger, and garlic and lightly breading with wheat and/or potato starch, and deep frying, similar to the preparation of tempura. It arrived at our table quickly, tasty and hot, and accompanied by a spicy dipping sauce—more soy, ginger, garlic, etc. Karagge chicken is sometimes called popcorn chicken, and it was as easy to eat as popcorn, but more satisfying and complex. Even more complexity came with the spicy edamame, which are edible soybeans, steamed and stir-fried in a garlicky, peppery sauce. There may be other spicy edamames in town, but we haven’t run across them, only the plain, salted ones, which are also available at Katana. But if you like a little kick, try these.
On to the entrees:
Bev ordered the Indiana roll ($13.95), a beautiful concoction of kani (imitation crab), steamed shrimp, avocado, cream cheese wrapped in soy paper and deep fried, served with spicy mayo and eel sauce. Bev loved it. “It’s so tender! It’s really good and creamy with a slight bit of crispness on the outside of the warm rice—comfort food at its best!” she said.
Kay gambled on Idako (marinated baby octopus $6.95) and was surprised to find 6-8 tiny bright red octopi presented on a bed of seaweed salad. The taste was surprising too, and somewhat indescribable—chewy, nicely seasoned, different! Try them with friends—only Julia would venture a taste. Kay also ordered the soft-shelled crab, a seasonal delicacy, deep-fried and perfectly cooked. She said, “It’s crispy on the outside, succulent on the inside. If you like crab, you’ll love this.”
Jo, a fish-eating vegetarian, has found over the years that our local restaurants are very good at accommodating people with dietary restrictions. She was able to choose what she wanted in her salmon teriyaki ($16.95). No rice? No problem! The salmon was served with miso soup and a green salad. Jo liked the way it was served in a skillet. “I like the fish to stay warm, and the skillet does this,” she said. “It’s saucy and I like the teriyaki sauce!”
Julia had many raw fish options, but she chose the crazy grill roll ($12.95), which was shrimp tempura and cucumber inside, topped with raw salmon and avocado, and served with spicy mayo and eel sauce. “I really like the tempura because it’s super light,” she said. “Usually tempura is too heavily battered, but this is not. I also like that this roll is simple, not too complicated, and all the ingredients complement each other.”
Everything at Katana was super fresh and beautifully presented. We all enjoyed our experience from entering the stylish dining room to browsing the menu full of mouth-watering photos to the sampling of our delicious meals.