The theme was Valentine's Day, the title "Love's in Fashion," and the benefit was for the Art Car Parade. On Monday, 18 celebrity Houston couples, including the restaurant world's Robert del Grande and his wife Mimi of RDG/Bar Annie, took to the runway in vibrant reds and Valentine-themed fashions from Tootsies.
It was more about fashion that night than anything else, with attendees decked out to the nines in trend-setting stilettos, vibrant colored cocktail dresses, furs and leather, but I was there for the first sample of bites and cocktails provided by Katsuya by S+ark, which is set to open this quarter in the West Ave complex in Upper Kirby. A team of chefs had been flown in especially for the occasion.
Their bites were in so much demand, the servers didn't make it much farther than a few feet before their trays were emptied, and as a result, for the first part of the evening before the fashion show, I didn't see anything but a few empty trays floating around.
After the show, we took up residence near the back of Tootsies, past the shoe section, where we were finally offered our choice of cucumber or grapefruit martinis, both delicious and well executed in spite of the crowd and the demand.
There were about half a dozen bites coming out in rotation, and it's ironic, but the best tasting bite for me was a fried, panko-breaded chicken topped with goat cheese, perhaps because it was hot. Another standout was Katsuya's famous Crispy Rice with Spicy Tuna, an oblong slab of pink tuna tartar over charred crispy rice, topped with a sliver of jalapeno.
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Yellowtail Sashimi with Jalapeno, another Katsuya favorite made of fresh yellowtail, ponzu, and jalapeno, were elegantly served in disposable white spoons. The simple preparation, which utilized the tastier, fattier portion of the hamachi belly, was light and tasty, and I wish I could have sampled more than one bite without appearing greedy.
Spicy tuna and avocado tartare tostaditas were fun and crispy bites to eat as well. Katsuya's original opening date of February has been pushed back to March.