Just in time for spring, an inviting little counter service cafe called Chef Katsu Brooklyn has opened on a pleasant, tree-lined block in Clinton Hill, the culmination of year-long effort by Katsutoshi and Chiemi Machida, who have lived in the neighborhood for more than 15 years.
Not that the couple are new to the food business--he's been a sushi chef for years, and their Katsu Burger booth enjoyed a two-year stint at Smorgasburg--but when space became available early in the pandemic right below their home, they knew they had to pounce. And so about two weeks ago, with help from family, friends, and crucially, a $50,000 Kickstarter effort, the Machidas starting feeding their neighbors on Green Avenue.
The Chef Katsu menu is an appealing mix of hearty sandwiches and rice bowls. There are four Katsu Burgers, which pair marinated, breaded, and fried slabs of pork, chicken, salmon, or portobello mushrooms with things like shredded cabbage, cheddar cheese, and a variety of house-made sauces, all on a decent brioche bun. I wolfed down a Pork Katsu Burger last week and it was just decadent enough to really satisfy, without feeling too heavy.
The Machidas also do good things with teriyaki-glazed meats and mushrooms, offering a trio of burgers (chicken, salmon, and portobello) as well as a selection of thoughtfully-adorned rice bowls. I ate the Salmon Teriyaki Bowl and, in addition to enjoying the perfectly cooked fish, I also appreciated the pickled radish, the blistered shishitos, and the soft-cooked egg, all which gave the dish some breadth. The sticky rice was good, too.
There are a few sides available, and I highly recommend the Seafood Chowder, laden with tender clams, bits of scallop, and peppered with green peas. This really came alive with a few shakes of sriracha, a bottle of which sits near the ordering counter. I also tried Chef Katsu's crisp, salty French Fries, and they did a fine job as burger accompaniments.
For a sweet afternoon snack you can get a Matcha Ice Cream Donut (which appears to be more like an ice cream sandwich on a brioche), or a slice of fluffy, Japanese-style Yuzu Cheesecake. There are also hot and iced teas, lattes, and matcha, as well Yuzu Mint Lemonade. Current capacity levels allow six people to sit outside, and there are three tables set up in the recessed area out front. A small park across the avenue provides picnic possibilities as well.
Chef Katsu Brooklyn is located at 143 Greene Avenue, just east of Waverly Avenue, and is currently in "soft open" mode on Wednesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. (716-599-1441; @chefkatsubk)