If you thought River North couldn't possibly hold another sushi-fusion restaurant, think again: Opening next summer in Marina City's massive former Bin 36 space is Katana (339 N. Dearborn, River North, no phone yet), the self-proclaimed robatayaki spot known for attracting celebrity types at its home on Los Angeles's Sunset Strip.
Launched by California hospitality moguls Innovative Dining Group (which includes partners Lee Maen, Philip Cummins, and Craig Katz), Chicago will be Katana's third location (the other one will open soon in Dubai). Asked why he's bringing Japanese fusion to the city where Japonais just closed, Maen says the main reason is "because I’m in love with Lou Malnati’s pizza, and this way I will be in Chicago often."
Katana, which specializes in skewers cooked over a bincho charcoal fire, will occupy 13,000 now-gutted square feet with upwards of 200 seats and a new lounge slinging sake and Japanese whiskey to midnight revelers. "We'll do a great bar scene," says Maen. "Probably a late-night alternative to going to a nightclub." Expect to pay like you're at one, too: Dinner and a drink at L.A.'s location run you about $65, and, says Maen, "toro or wagyu [beef] can take it up to $100."
As for the actual differences at the Chicago location, Maen plans to beef up Katana's steak program. Past that, Katana's everything-under-the-sun sushi menu will go largely unchanged, and its in-house dessert program will stay equally decadent (the volcano cake and caramelized-banana wonton baskets are well-known in L.A., and each restaurant has its own pastry program). "The menu is based on grazing and sharing," says Maen. "We would love to take you through and have the chef educate you. But if you want a California roll, you can have that too."