Slideshow: Katsuya Uechi Faces Michael Mina at XIV

Katsuya and Mina’s takes on big eye tuna

San Francisco chef Michael Mina and SoCal sushi master Katsuya Uechi entered the kitchens of Mina’s XIV last night to battle over an “East meets West” menu whose backside paired their photos like a Vegas boxing announcement. This food fight was actually nothing but friendly, finding the two chefs preparing personal takes on the same ingredients. Both empire owners, the men have a touch with small plates and showcased their attention to detail through tiny additions of exotic citrus, minute flowers, and engineered sauces that drew big flavor from the diminutive offers. XIV has never looked livelier, with tables and patio overflowing, plus staff from both restaurants finding time to smile over furious preparation while under the gaze of big boss Sam Nazarian, who strode through the dining room to greet friends. This unique match-up was the first for the Sunset Strip restaurant, but judging from the inspiration and high visibility it gave both chefs, won’t be the last.