Dine Out: Katana offers Japanese fusion

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 30, 2011

By Robin M. Perry
For the Salisbury Post
What, you may wonder, is Japanese Fusion? Katana, the new Japanese cuisine restaurant on Jake Alexander Boulevard answers that query.
“We are infusing new and invigorating flavors into traditional Japanese menu items,” says Tommy Ngo, who along with his brother, David manages the sleek new eatery. “It is Japanese with a little extra,” he adds. “We want to create a fun environment to serve healthy foods folks can eat every day,” explains Tommy.
They serve entrees in three different styles. You can get chicken or steak or shrimp or pork, for example Hibachi style (soy sauce based), Teriyaki style (sweet glaze) or their signature Katana style (spicy with a hint of sweetness.) We tried the shrimp Katana and found the blend of flavors very fresh and tasty. Entrees, served with rice, vegetable, sweet carrots and shiki sauce range in price from $5 for vegetables to $6 for pork or flounder and steak for $6.50. Combo entrees with soup and salad and vegetables include chicken and steak ($9.50), steak and scallop ($11.50) or the Ninja special-chicken steak, scallops and shrimp kabob for $13.50.
A feature I liked was the petite entrees, a choice of chicken, steak or shrimp with rice and vegetables, but in a smaller portion ($4-$5).
“We added that for those with the not-so-big appetite-but not having to sacrifice to get a kids meal,” Tommy explained. It was just the right size.
Their “starters” include such delicacies as crispy Rangoon wontons ($2.50), signature spring rolls ($2.50), Edamame ($4) and famous wings ($4). We particularly liked the Rangoon wontons and spring rolls.
If sushi is your favorite, Katana serves it fresh with beautiful presentation. David manned the sushi bar when we visited, and the results were delicious to the taste and the eyes. There is an art to creating sushi and it is fascinating to watch.
David created a holiday roll with tuna, shrimp tempura, and cream cheese, topped with rice pearls in soy paper. The sauce he decorated it with added a great zing. I must admit it was my first time eating sushi — and I liked it.
Tommy says he has been pleasantly surprised by so many people in Salisbury who like the sushi.
“It has been very popular,” he adds.
Tommy and his family came to N.C. 12 years ago from San Diego, where he grew up. His uncle, Joe Tran lives here and needed help with his expanding restaurant business. He has a chain of restaurants called Shiki in Statesville, Elkin, Charlotte, Mocksville and Taylorville.
The opportunity to open in Salisbury was offered to Tommy by his uncle, who was too busy with other projects to start Katana. His uncle perfected the sauces they use and taught them the art of making sushi also. Tommy has been in the restaurant business since he was 15, except during school. He has always had an interest in it and welcomed the chance to open Salisbury’s Katana with his brother, David.
Business has been good since they opened April 18. They have full service dining and drive-thru takeout too.
The sushi menu offers 18 different types of rolls, including a kiddy roll (cream cheese and crunchy) and Tommy says he wants to expand the sushi menu, since Salisbury patrons have shown such a fondness for it.
He also wants to be an active part of the Salisbury community.
“We want to serve good food, build relationships with our customers and reach out to the community,” he said.
He indicates they would welcome the opportunity to help schools or other groups with fundraisers.
“The people in Salisbury have been very welcoming and given us good feedback,” Tommy says.
They have a Facebook page where comments have been positive.
We didn’t get to try the desserts, because we were just too full, but it looks interesting. They have Mochi ice cream, which is green tea or mango ice cream wrapped in a type of flour pastry, or the Wonton s’mores with vanilla ice cream. Tommy explained this is a camping dessert with an Asian flare — the s’mores are wrapped in a wonton. Sounds like we will have to save room for those next time
Katana is located at 475 Jake Alexander Blvd and is open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. You can dine in or call or fax in your order for takeout. The drive thru window makes it easy. Phone: 704-636-0200 Fax: 704-636-0288. Website, www.katanafusion.com