Kato is an unassuming spot in a strip mall in West Los Angeles. Kato is unique in that it offers a sophisticated tasting menu at a reasonable price ($50 per person). Chef and owner Jonathan Yao opened Kato in June of 2016 to rave reviews. We visited in January of 2017 with an old friend of mine from high school (Hi, Zach!) and his lovely girlfriend. Kato's vision is awesome, because you get quality food for a reasonable price and it's not your typical night-long tasting menu experience--we were able to get in and out and onto a comedy show at The Upright Citizen's Brigade!
We started with this lil' seaweed sandwich---it was super-charged with umami to get the evening started off properly!
Hamachi Crudo with pickled cucumber and nori mozuku sauce
Ocean trout with charred cabbage
Duck with plum sauce
Uni & crab porridge
Dessert was my absolute favorite course (I promise that this is not always the case (just usually), but this rose granita with buttermilk pudding was out of this world! I wanted five more.
Kato did not have their liquor license yet on our visit, so we had some really awesome Jasmine tea topped with a sweetened condensed milk foam--basically the best version of Thai tea ever.
Kato is a very intimate spot (read: small), and the fact that it's tucked away in a strip mall makes you feel as though you are a food secret agent and you've found some sort of hidden gem, so that's exciting. The tables and decor are sparse--the focus is on the food, not the ambiance.
LA Baby Hospitality:
The servers were nice, and they were understanding of our lateness (LA traffic is seriously no joke), but we could tell that they were trying to move us in and out quickly, probably because they had someone else slated to use the table, which again, is totally on us for being late. There isn't really much reason to linger though, as Kato doesn't yet serve alcohol. Seriously, who wants to talk to their friends sober for longer than it takes to eat a meal? Does that make me an alcoholic?
LA strip malls are probably where we will find a portal to another dimension; When your old high school friends are LA chic, does that make you fancy, too?; Seriously, I hope Elon Musk realizes his vision for an underground tunnel below LA's highways, because that situation is bananas; It actually makes me mad that they stopped traffic to film that dance scene for the opening of La La Land--like, seriously, these locals go through enough--get a proper set, Ryan Gosling; It's not Ryan's fault directly, but I am going to need him to apologize to me in person; "Hey girl, this traffic is really messed up, but I appreciate your flexibility in a stressful situation."