Gluten-Free In Lost Angeles: Katsu-ya

Katsu-yaGoing without sushi for months is excruciating. I was more than willing to oblige Dawn’s desire for sushi for dinner one night after bringing Mara Jade home. She chose Katsu-ya for takeout.

The restaurant has horrible reviews for its service in the restaurant, but great reviews for the food. I don’t think any of us would’ve handled poor service well that night. My order wasn’t my usual long list of maki rolls and nigiri since Chaz and I ate a late lunch that day.

Chaz and I used to eat Japanese food a lot in the days before I went gluten-free. The last four years I’ve stuck with sushi and sashimi. We are spoiled by our local sushi chef, Ken, who gets his fish direct and not through a middle-man. That’s an important thing out here in the Midwest. It means fresher fish which in turn means non-fishy tasting fish. Every Japanese restaurant we go to with friends and gets compared to Ken and his restaurant. Most never measure up. The last time we had sushi in California, two years ago, we weren’t impressed. Sometimes you just have to cross your fingers and hope for the best.

My order was simple, Chirashi sushi. Basically sashimi served over sushi rice in a bowl. Honestly, simple sushi is the way it was meant to be. Not sushi with all the sauces, fried tempura, and cream cheese. Really, cream cheese in sushi is an abomination. I’m not saying you’re doing it wrong if you like the extras in your sushi. I’m just saying all that extra stuff runs counter to the intent of sushi. You should be able to taste the fish, rice, and vegetables, not all the crazy stuff added to it to appease Western appetites.

The tako (octopus) was tender, which is rare to find. My big test is the salmon. Truly fresh salmon will feel like butter in your mouth with just a hint of the taste of salmon. Katsu-ya passed my salmon test. I only wish I had thought to order more because once my sushi was gone, I was one sad Debi.

I’d be happy to order takeout from Katsu-ya the next time we visit.

Anyone else in the mood for sushi now?

What Will It Take? World Suicide Prevention Day 2014

phone Cali 316September 1st marked 2 years since I received the text that made me feel so alone in the packed L.A. Coliseum. 2 years since my cousin took his own life.

Mental illness is one of the main risk factors for suicide.

Stigma still surrounds mental illness. It still needs attention. It still needs to be discussed openly without judgment. It deserves the time on TV that Stand Up 2 Cancer gets. It deserves the time the Muscular Distrophy Association gets. Easter Seals and every other medical condition with TV fundraising/awareness specials.

Robin Williams is gone and the only people still talking about how he died are the people affected by mental illness. Either those diagnosed or their loved ones. Yes, it’s great to be nostalgic for the days when Robin entertained us as Mork from Ork and encouraged free-thinkers in Dead Poet’s Society. I’m nostalgic for the days when my cousin was still a baby and the days when he made me laugh as he got older. I can be nostalgic all I want, but it doesn’t change the fact that both of them committed suicide.

People say how “tragic” Robin’s death is. What about all the celebrities who died of “accidental overdose”? Those deaths were tragic and the same theme runs through all those deaths. Would our beloved comedy genius still be with us if this topic wasn’t still taboo? If all those accidental overdoses had been ruled “overdose” and we faced the root of the problem instead of the end result? If we didn’t moan about the tragedy until they were buried and threw the topic in the grave with them, covering it with dirt and forgetting about it?

What if we were as open about mental illness as we are about cancer? What would the discussion look like? What would change for those who need services? What would change with insurance coverage for said services? What would change for those in rural areas with inadequate access to needed services?

Social, psychological, cultural and other factors can interact to lead a person to suicidal behaviour, but the stigma attached to mental disorders and suicide means that many people feel unable to seek help. Despite the evidence that many deaths are preventable, suicide is too often a low priority for governments and policy-makers.” –Preventing Suicide: A Global Imperative, World Health Organization, 2014

All it takes is 1 time for an attempt to be successful.


804,000 people take their own lives every year. That’s about 1 person every 40 seconds. Several people will have taken their own lives by the time you finish reading this post. For every 1 person committing suicide there are approximately 20 who attempt suicide. That’s 1,600,000 attempts per year.

Health-care services need to incorporate suicide prevention as a core component. Mental disorders and harmful use of alcohol contribute to many suicides around the world. Early identification and effective management are key to ensuring that people receive the care they need.

Communities play a critical role in suicide prevention. They can provide social support to vulnerable individuals and engage in follow-up care, fight stigma and support those bereaved by suicide.” –Preventing Suicide: A Global Imperative, World Heath Organization, 2014

What will it take for you to do something? To make this as important as finding a cure for cancer.

Whatever it is, don’t wait for someone you love to commit suicide before doing something.

The time is NOW.


Links to suicide prevention and behavioral health resources:

International Association for Suicide Prevention

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

SAMHSA Behavioral Health Treatment Services LocatorJonathan copy

Gluten-Free In Los Angeles: Sun Cafe

Sun CafeChaz and I ran off to Sun Café for lunch the day Dawn and her Old Man brought Mara Jade home. We tried to go to Sun Café on two previous visits. First time was a group outing and they were closed. Second time, Chaz overshot it and didn’t feel like circling around.

The staff are knowledgeable about gluten-free issues. It was sad our server felt she had to ask if it was medically related, but it’s Los Angeles, land of fad diets galore and near many studios. They do not have a separate gluten-free menu, but your server can tell you what is gluten-free and what can be made gluten-free with some modifications.Sun Cafe 3

The only problem I was I wanted almost everything on the menu. Not only that, everything on the menu is vegan and many items are raw or can be raw. I settled for the Sun Nachos with jicama chips and a Lemon Ginger Blast. The nachos excited me. I can’t have corn so the lack of tortillas with Mexican food is saddening. Then, Sun Café reminded me that jicama is a perfect swap for tortillas, as my friend Diane taught me. It was my first time eating nachos in a restaurant in a long time. They were delicious and I devoured them. The Lemon Ginger Blast juice was tasty and I forced myself to not drink it down in one go. Because ginger.Sun Cafe 2

Chaz pointed out two celebrities in the restaurant because I was paying more attention to the menu than my surroundings. Cedric the Entertainer was seated at a booth in our section. I got a ninja shot with my phone. He was cordial and smiling at everyone in the section when he left; saying goodbye and wishing us all a good day when he left as if we were chatting it up beforehand. I call that a class act.Sun Cafe 5

Mila Kunis was talking to some people off to the side behind us. I watched her leave the bathroom before Chaz pointed her out and was thinking how cute her strapless maternity dress was without really paying attention to her face. No ninja shot of her though. That’s okay. I’m just impressed Chaz saw them first.Sun Cafe 4

Dessert is ON the table at Sun Café with cupcakes and cheesecakes. They are all gluten-free and your server will give you the run down because they don’t have their desserts on the menu. I took a mint chocolate cupcake to go. When I ate it later that night I wasn’t exactly impressed. I’ve had better, but it was still a cupcake I got to have from a restaurant. I didn’t complain because it wasn’t cardboard.Sun Cafe 7

We went back a few days later and I got PIZZA! Vegan, gluten-free pizza with cashew cheese that was glorious and I was wondering WHY I never thought to use cashew cheese on pizza while I was dairy-free. This started a conversation about making pizza with cashew cheese at the yearly gluten-free retreat with Valerie of City|Life|Eats on Instagram. We never did make that pizza, but we sure did eat a lot of cashew cream that weekend.Sun Cafe 6

I ordered a Green Protein Smoothie with my lunch and my server asked me if I was sure I wanted it…”…because it’s really green.” It seems people order it and don’t expect the green-ness of it because of the spirulina. It didn’t feel as green as she led me to believe it would be. Then again, I’m used to making my own green smoothies.Sun Cafe 8

This time I ordered the mint chocolate cheesecake to go. Chaz took me to see Guardians of the Galaxy after lunch and that sucker sat in my purse the entire time. If I had a fork (or anything else I could’ve used as an eating utensil), I would’ve eaten it during the movie. In the end, it was much better than the cupcake.

I wanted to go one more time before we left L.A., but Chaz was done. He ate the same thing both times: Portobello Sandwich.