Located at the foot of the omnipresent glowing lights of the Omni Hotel downtown sits Black Ship Little Katana. Accompanied by a few other restaurants, Black Ship Little Katana offers a modern take on the traditional dishes of Asia.
If you have been to the Little Katana located on Travis St. in Highland Park, you know what to expect. Black Ship is the creation of Odes Kim, mastermind of prized local sushi restaurant Little Katana. Fresh fish, Wagyu beef, unbelievable service and atmosphere. Once you step into the new digs downtown, you realize that there is nothing little about the new venture of Little Katana. Dimly lit, dark and at the same time inviting, this will be your new favorite spot when catching a Mavs game or possibly enjoying a staycation at the Omni right next door. Park your whip at the dedicated parking garage underneath the restaurant, take the elevator up and prepare yourself for a culinary experience you will remember for a very long time.
Greeted with a smile and a cocktail recommendation, you must try the Commodore Perry cocktail named after the gentleman pictured above. Stern and delicious, this cocktail features a variety of ingredients that may sound unbelievably foreign but one sip and you understand to never judge a cocktail before you try it. Commodore Perry Cocktail consists of Elijah Craig 12 Year Old Bourbon, Domaine De Canton Ginger Liqueur, Japanese Roasted Tea Syrup, Lime Juice and a dash of Black Walnut Bitters. The bitters floored me and had me ordering more of these throughout the night.
The concept at Black Ship Little Katana plays from Matthew Perry in 1852 as he sailed many trips to Japan to open the ports to west trade. Along those trips, the salt water stained the Navy vessels black, hence the name Black Ship. Perry ended up opening the ports not only in Japan, but all of Asia and this plays out wonderfully in the menu here. Hints of Korea, touches of Vietnam, and the main staples of Japan.
Starters include Sizzling Dumpling filled with cilantro beef served a plum sauce and sweet chili sauce. Master your chopstick skills as you caress each dumpling and dunk them in each delicious sauce.
Get your Korean fare fix as you start with Kalbi (pronounced galbi in Korean and literally means rib – 소갈비). Marinated in traditional Korean sauces and grilled, these tender strips melt in your mouth. Key the dramatic lighting!
Roll up your sleeves and prepare to be amazed as you enjoy the Wagyu Hot Rock. Thinly sliced Wagyu beef, ponzu and a thai chili sauce are laid upon a bed of banana leaves. Be careful, that rock is piping hot! Gently lay strips of beef and relax to the wonderful sizzle as the meat hits the stone.
Now that you have settled the hunger pangs with some delicious appetizers, let’s get into what Black Ship Little Katana does best: sushi. Recommendations include the Katana Roll – Shrimp, eel sauce, crawfish, cream cheese, avocado, chili-spiked mayo, and chili sauce.
As you may or may not know, sushi and sashimi are not one and the same. Sashimi is the grown up version. I like to think of it as a fine 18 year scotch. Neat. Organic. Mature. If you are feeling brave and just got paid, then you must try the LK Special. This is the Chef’s choice platter of fresh fish and it is presented with its own ice sculpture and hand carved “black ship” replica from a cucumber. It was so appealing to the eyes that I did’t want to touch it! Each piece was sliced to perfection, and the tender fish literally blew my mind.
Black Ship Little Katana offers dishes that appeal to those who aren’t fond of raw, fresh and delicious fish. Take for instance the Wagyu NY Strip. Wagyu is a Japanese cow that is highly sought after for its intense marbling characteristics. Techniques to ensure such quality include massaging the cows and even adding sake or beer to the feeding regimen. Talk about one spoiled cow! Prepare to spoil yourself with this wonderful cut of meat. Grilled to a medium rare to preserve the quality, gently placed on a bed of wasabi mashed potatoes (you will not eat your mashed potatoes any other way!) topped with grilled asparagus and herb butter. WOW!
One more dish from the entree section of the elaborate menu at Black Ship Little Katana includes an Orange Ginger Salmon. A hearty filet of salmon placed over a bed of spinach, doused in orange supreme and orange ginger sauce. Paired with the staple of all Asian dishes is a fluffy scoop of white rice that melds well with the orange ginger sauce.
Now that you have eaten your way through most of Asia, lets make one last stop at dessert. For the faint of heart, I present to you Mochi (strawberry, green tea, mango, mocha). Japanese glutinous rice cut into tiny bite size morsels and served with whipped cream is a perfect dish to share with the table. For the brave, end the night with some sake. Give the cucumber flavored Japanese rice wine a shot (or two)!
I would recommend to make a reservation by visiting the website at lkblackship.com as it gets packed early!
(My meal was complimentary and all thoughts and opinions are my own.)