Getting Lost Chasing Stars - Kato [Thoughts + Pics]

By now, most local food lovers have probably heard the story of Chef Jon Yao, owner of Kato. Originally dissuaded from pursuing a culinary career by his parents, he eventually was given a chance to take over a small space that his parents and family friend had set aside for a casual cafe (according to the Michelin Guide). From there, he had free reign to develop the menu as he pleased, and garnered enough accolades and attention to earn 1 Michelin Star. With the pandemic and dreams of expanding into a fine dining space, he recently took over a massive corner lot that previously housed M. Georgina at the ROW DTLA (the retail mall that is home to Hayato and Smorgasburg).

Walking into the space (there is no signage outside yet), and most of the sleek modernist design from M. Georgina is still intact. Chef Yao was on the line, plating and preparing dishes all evening.

I never made it out to the original Kato restaurant, but we were joined by a friend who had dined at the original, small corner spot multiple times. Looking at the menu, and it’s clear that Chef Yao is aiming for a full-on fine dining experience, perhaps to better “fit” into his current 1 Michelin Star rating, and/or to also aim for a 2nd Star.

There is only 1 dining option, a Tasting Menu starting at $195 (+ tax & tip) per person, and as of April 1, 2022, it will increase to $225 per person starting. There are also two Wine Pairings, either a $125 or $175 per person additional charge. M. Georgina had a hard liquor license, so with them taking that over, they have a decent Spirits Menu, with some entries clearly aimed at the baller / bling crowd, including the option to taste a 1959 Suntory Royal 60th Anniversary Japanese Whisky for $1,700 per serving(!).

They also had a decent Tea Menu, featuring 11 different types of Loose Leaf Teas.

Bancha Green Tea (Kagoshima, Japan):

The server mentioned that each of their “quality Teas” (as the server stated) featured unlimited refills (as they would re-steep the tea leaves whenever asked). I mention this because they went through this elaborate pomp & circumstance of showing off the tea in a base ceramic pot. Then they let it steep near us for 3 minutes. Then they came back, and poured the tea into a wide ceramic container, and then they poured it into the tea cup to drink.

Perhaps the extra pour made a difference, but what was frustrating is that after that initial pour, they threw pomp & circumstance out the window on refills. When I asked for a refill of the Bancha (note: I had to ask for refills every single time, because the servers never bothered to ask us for additional drinks or help refill anything), they came back and poured a refill that was clearly sitting around oversteeped (it was bitter), and lukewarm.

Amuse - Torn Bluefin Tuna, Shaved Bottarga, Caramelized Onion Dehydrated:

The opening Amuse-Bouche was a nice idea, but the quality of the Bluefin Tuna (raw) was questionable. It had a bad briny, fishy aftertaste, but I loved the crunchiness and the umami from the Shaved Bottarga.

Coal-Seared Japanese Sea Bream, Black Vinegar:

The Coal-Seared Japanese Sea Bream had a clean, bright taste to it (thankfully better than the Bluefin Tuna), and the Ginger and Preserved Sesame Leaf were a nice counterpoint. The Black Vinegar worked nicely here with a zap of piquancy, taking the place of Ponzu Sauce.

Santa Barbara Sea Urchin Donut, Iberico Ham, Brown Butter:

The “Donut” here perhaps was a homage to the Chinese You Tiao (Fried Cruller)? But it didn’t really evoke any similarities. However, Uni and Iberico Ham sound like a winning combination. Unfortunately, the case of the “variable Uni” strikes again: Sea Urchin has really felt to be continually random in its freshness, even at restaurants known for consistently great Uni preparations. On this evening, our Uni (Santa Barbara) turned out to be oceanic (in a bad way), with an unpleasant sea water aftertaste. :cry: If you look past that, and just on the initial creaminess of the first few seconds with the Iberico Ham and Fried Donut? It was pretty tasty, but ruined by that bad Uni aftertaste.

Astrea Kaluga Caviar, Geoduck, Koji, Korean Spinach:

While Sea Urchin is hinting that a restaurant is aiming for “lux” ingredients, when you start seeing Caviar appear on the menu, that’s a telltale sign that they’re trying to aim for “high end” / “bling.” In terms of actual taste, the Astrea Kaluga Caviar (China) should’ve been the star here, but instead it mainly serves as a backnote of salinity to the Geoduck (nicely cooked) and Korean Spinach in Mussel Water.

Milk Bread, Kelp Butter:

The fresh, hot Bread Course definitely hearkened back to numerous Michelin-starred, high end restaurants in San Francisco, where the Chef would present diners with some freshly baked loaf of whatever Bread they felt matched their Tasting Menu. Here, it felt perfunctory. The Milk Bread arrived piping hot (a plus), but it was a bit on the dry side. Still soft and airy at least, but dryish. The Kelp Butter was fine, but lacked any depth of real buttery goodness. It’s hard to mess up Hot Bread and Butter, so it was still enjoyable. It just lacked the execution to really sing (good, but not great).

The Garden, A Snapshot of Aaron’s Farm, Taiwanese Sesame:

It turns out “Aaron” is the farmer at Girl and Dug Farm, where Kato gets many of their greens from. This was the highlight of the night: Super fresh, vibrant micro-greens and herbs and edible flowers direct from a farm. The freshness shone through. The dressing was a Taiwanese Sesame Dressing and it worked nicely here adding a gentle nuttiness.

The only downside is that it was minuscule. It looked like a decent “volume” but most of that is air. When you get to the actual bite of greens compacted, it’s like 1 - 2 tiny bites of a standard Salad plate. I wish there was more. I could’ve eaten a whole plate of this and be happy; that’s how fresh the greens were.

Egg Custard, Kelp Vinegar, Chinese Chives:

This felt like Chef Yao’s take on the classic Japanese Chawanmushi (Steamed Egg Custard) dish. The Egg Custard arrived just cooked through, perhaps a bit too runny, but just on the edge. It was light, silky, slippery, watery.

Local Black Cod, Soured Napa and Chinese Mustard, Celtuce:

The Local Black Cod was presented in a broth of Fish Bones, Fermented Mustard Greens and Chinese Rice Wine. Unfortunately, the Black Cod was overcooked. It was dryish, meaty, chewy, and lacked the moist suppleness of properly steamed fish.

However the Soured Napa Cabbage and Fermented Mustard Greens were the first bite this evening that evoked anything that tasted like “Chinese cuisine” which is what our friend told us Chef Yao was doing well at the original Kato location. The Napa Cabbage and Fermented Mustard Greens in Fish Bone Broth was delicious. I just wish the actual Black Cod wasn’t overcooked.

Steamed Rice:

The Steamed Rice with a dusting of Seaweed was fine. It wasn’t overcooked, nor did it have anything standout about its execution, which was disappointing.

Miyazaki A5 Striploin, Beef Tendon, Maitake, Potato:

And in the ultimate failed attempt to aim for more Michelin Stars, sure enough, Grade A5 Wagyu Beef made an appearance. It’s one thing if there’s a reason for Grade A5 Wagyu Beef to be on the menu, if it fits your restaurant / culinary point-of-view. Here, it felt so perfunctory and the taste reflected that:

What you have is a nicely seared piece of A5 Wagyu Beef from Miyazaki, Japan. Seasoned with a bit of Salt & Pepper. Biting into it, it’s super fatty, tender, except my piece of Wagyu had a massive piece of gristle running along the entire bite. :sob: It was inedible and I had to spit it out (quietly). I informed our server of the issue, and reflecting just how immature Kato is in its current state, our server simply said, “Oh OK. I’ll let the kitchen know.” No apologies. In fact, by the end of the meal, no one came over to check on us, or even offer condolences to the mishap. Baffling for a restaurant trying to aim for bling and Michelin Stars.

The Beef Tendon Ragout was super concentrated, salty and stew-like, probably a nod to, say, a Taiwanese Beef Noodle Soup perhaps, except it was totally out of place here. If you tried some of the A5 Wagyu Beef with that super concentrated, salty Beef Tendon Ragout, the Sauce overpowered the delicacy of the A5 Wagyu. Eaten by itself, and it was too salty. The A5 Wagyu by itself had the massive gristle problem, but besides that, it was just “there.”

A totally unnecessary and stereotypical “luxury” dish made to try and impress less discerning customers who would get star struck seeing “A5 Wagyu” on the menu.

Meiwa Kumquat Bingsoo, Vanilla Anglaise, Meyer Lemon:

This was a great Shaved Ice Dessert. It’s hard to mess up Bingsoo or any Shaved Ice Dessert when you have a good fruit base, and here it shone brightly: Meyer Lemon adds that fragrant high note and citric sweetness that only Meyer Lemons can bring, the Meiwa Kumquat brought in harmony, and the Vanilla Anglaise added just the right sweet notes. :slight_smile:

Jujube, Scorched Rice Cream, Muscovado Tuile, Castella Cake:

This was OK. The Muscovado Tuile reminded our friend of some Chinese sweet snack growing up. For us, it was a light, pastry-molasses sweetness, which worked fine with the Rice Cream and Cake. The Cake itself was overcooked and dry.

Mignardise, Coconut Pandan Bon Bon, Raspberry Lychee Pate de Fruits, Rose Caramel Candy:

These were fine. The Coconut Pandan Bon Bon was visually arresting, and had a nice tropical, herbal taste. The Raspberry Lychee Pate de Fruits tasted like its ingredients, so it paired nicely. The Rose Caramel Candy lacked any rose flavor.

When dining in L.A., one should already expect a certain casual level of service, but for a restaurant like Kato trying to be “fine dining” in the vein of S.F.'s top eateries, seeing this same mediocre, lax service is a bit disheartening, but not unexpected. Our server rarely checked in on us. Our plates weren’t removed after we finished each course. Our server and the Sommelier never bothered to stop by during the meal to ask if we wanted any additional drinks or refills. The “high quality Tea” (as they referred to it) was improperly steeped and they just poured lukewarm, oversteeped, bitter refills when I asked for more Tea. When you’re charging customers ~$250 (after tax & tip) for a Tasting Menu meal and clearly trying to aim for fine dining, service should be better.

The new Kato feels like it’s trying so hard to chase after a 2nd Michelin Star. It’s in a space that is much bigger than its original beginnings. There’s a single Tasting Menu that is going to be starting at $225 per person (+ tax & tip) starting in April. They’re pitching Wine Pairings for an additional $125 or $175 per person depending on what option you want. And they resorted to the stereotypical “bling” ingredients offerings (Caviar, A5 Wagyu Beef) to try and make themselves look more precious.

Executive Chef-Owner Val M. Cantu (of vaunted Michelin 2 Star Californios in the Bay Area) once told me that he was looking to avoid using Caviar or A5 Wagyu Beef on his menu if possible. He lamented that many fine dining restaurants in S.F. resorted to using those fancy ingredients almost as a necessity, as a shortcut and easy way to impress Michelin inspectors and the average fine dining guest. After that chat with us, I looked back on the meals we had around S.F. at various Michelin-starred fine dining restaurants (and thinking on other cities’ Michelin restaurants) and sure enough, Caviar and A5 Wagyu Beef seemed like it was just a given on many of those menus. (@ipsedixit @BradFord @A5KOBE @sck @hyperbowler @paranoidgarliclover and all.) (Note: I love a well-executed A5 Wagyu Beef dish as much as anyone, but it should be within that restaurant’s culinary viewpoint; and for a reason other than just because it’s showy.)

There were perhaps 2 bites of food the entire evening that felt like it hearkened to a Taiwanese or Chinese dish. Our friend who had dined at the original Kato multiple times expressed profound disappointment as well, noting that at Chef Yao’s OG restaurant, many of the dishes were nods to the chef’s heritage, but not so here. I left this meal feeling like it could’ve been an offering at any random 1 Michelin Star fine dining restaurant in any city in the world: European / French cooking techniques, a typical Tasting Menu procession that felt uninspired. When looking at an Asian-influenced, fine dining Tasting Menu that excels and shines, look no further than San Francisco’s Michelin 3 Star powerhouse, Benu. The new Kato isn’t even in the same league. It feels lost, grasping at ways to earn a 2nd Michelin Star with no focus. Here’s to hoping Chef Yao and team find their focus and have better execution.

777 S. Alameda St., Building 1, Suite 114
Los Angeles, CA 90021
Tel: (213) 797-5770


Thanks for your honest and thorough report! Here’s to hoping that Kato can find / regain their voice. The new menu seems to eschew cooking as a Taiwanese restaurant / “Asian American nostalgia” (their term). From my outsider’s view (I’ve never been to Kato), the food at their earlier location sounds considerably more interesting. Contemporary generic “fine dining” trappings aside, it’s unfortunate to hear about the execution / off ingredients and service missteps. There may be growing pains, especially in a pandemic, as they find their footing in the context of their new space and new style…but my hope for them as they evolve is that they not lose sight of their original ethos that gave them a more interesting point of view to share. It seems like potential may be there, if they dial it in and bring focus, clarity, and execution to fit their fine dining aspirations (even if the style and price point may be relatively more casual).

As I read through your report, I did quickly think of dining around S.F. from a few years ago. Relatedly, I also thought of Californios. They are one restaurant that successfully switched things up, attaining more stars in the process but retaining their identity throughout. Californios’ most memorable dishes to me were ones early on, and I didn’t love their use of caviar when it first started appearing - it felt a bit forced and not on the same level of creativity as many other dishes in the menu - but overall, Californios is a restaurant with a clear voice and successful evolution. Their use of Monterey Bay abalone was very successful and natural to their cuisine, but wagyu is perhaps a bit more of a stretch.

Anyway, speaking of caviar, I’ve had decent / quite good Kaluga hybrid caviar (I believe from China) and find that it can be a fair relative value at times (one you don’t feel bad about cooking with or just doing bumps of from time to time while preparing a nice meal). I believe that Astrea is a recent caviar company, and one of the more popular ones in this circuit of California fine dining at least. I’ve seen their product popping up, but I’ve yet to purchase any myself. Nonetheless, for your caviar dish at Kato perhaps it’s more of the dish’s conception and preparation at issue than the product itself.

The intent seems clear on paper (…and the sound of caviar in a coupe stem paired with milk bread and butter makes me think of Saison’s many signature caviar courses…) but the issue with dressed up caviar dishes to me is that the whole should really be elevated to something else. Otherwise, it ends up coming off as a hollow gesture or a disservice to the ingredient itself. The best caviar courses have great mouthfeel, definition, and finish, augmented by simple, gentle cooking or choice ingredient pairings that add an extra dimension of finesse. But when I read your description of the geoduck caviar dish here, it seems like the caviar isn’t really an essential ingredient, and the dish sounds a bit lost texturally (I love geoduck, but the whole seems disjointed).

The bingsoo does sound delicious though and it works in context. Jujube dessert sounds like it could work well, but maybe it needs a little work on texture.

Perhaps if they retool the menu a bit, fix the service and ingredient QC issues, and present their own ethos confidently (without being too inspired by other fine dining in California or the current landscape) they can achieve new levels. High-end Taiwanese based dishes could be quite interesting! It seems that they have potential, based on their earlier iteration, but really honing in on their identity may be crucial at this juncture.


Someone messaged me this post as it discussed Astrea. Astrea is the company. Kaluga is a type of sturgeon for caviar. They are proud to serve our caviar, so they put our company name on there. We are proud they serve our caviar (as well as many many fine restaurants throughout the United States).

Just wanted to do a little bit of caviar education. Almost all of the caviar consumed at fine dining restaurants all over the world (including the VAST majority of 3 star restaurants in Paris) come from China. The post seems to drip anti China product disdain so thought i’d correct that. Kaluga is a breed that’s found in the Amur River that borders China and Russia and was popularized by the Kaluga Queen company in China. They are the source of caviar for pretty much every single major caviar brand you all know (except Astrea) on the west coast.


Hi @BradFord,

Thanks for the great post and thoughts! :slight_smile: You have a better perspective for fine dining restaurants than I do, so it’s good to hear your feelings on this as well.

Definitely agree with Californios. My favorite dish from them was the humble Esquites + Crickets: Chef Cantu reinvented the classic Mexican Street Food dish and used Corn Kernels with Sunchoke Puree and topped it with finely ground Chapulines (Toasted Grasshoppers). It was so good! :blush: and no lux ingredients needed.

Thanks for the heads up on Kaluga caviar that you had. You hit the nail on the head, besides the surprise (for us) that it was from China, if it was well executed on where the caviar shines, that’s great. However, in that dish, it was really about the Geoduck, the Korean Spinach and Mussel Water (the giant pool that it was sitting in). The dish could’ve been just as enjoyable without the Kaluga, so it felt like it was just added to be showy to try and earn another star.

Based on what my friend told me about the original Kato’s menu (and what were highlights), it feels as though the current menu is just drifting towards that “European / French / Fine Dining” angle and losing his voice. I hope things get straightened out.

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Thanks for the info on your company’s products. I expressed surprise that the caviar was from China, but I am certainly not an expert. I’ve updated the sentence after your info, thanks.

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As I mentioned previously, the majority of caviar that you’ve consumed at fine dining restaurants and in other settings would all be from China. Based on a short survey of your posts, you put yourself out as one well versed in fine dining, so I’m a bit surprised you aren’t aware of that. Your statement in your review comes out as “EW CHINA”.

China is the leading expert in caviar production/quality right now and has probably invested more in the development of caviar than any other nation in the world. Hence it’s popularity in pretty much all of the great restaurants in the world.

p.s. Californios’ wildly famous banana and caviar dish uses Chinese caviar.


Hi @clayfu,

I’ve never said I was an expert on caviar, so I thank you for the information. It is certainly a surprise if what you’ve been told your whole life (from various restaurants in the past) was how great certain caviar are (Beluga, Ossetra). I’ve had co-workers, friends from Russia in the past that told me how fantastic it was. Clearly, that was in the past and limited information. In addition, you’re overreacting. I wrote two sentences about your company’s caviar, mainly expressing genuine surprise, as I hadn’t heard about it before. I’ve since updated the post. (BTW, for the various times I’ve been to Californios’ they never served caviar for our meals, so I wouldn’t have known about it then either. Thanks.)


Welcome, and thanks for your thoughts / info. Looking forward to trying your caviar sometime; I’m sure I will, especially since I’ve been hearing of your brand in several restaurants now! With the caviar I’ve had in restaurants (I haven’t dined out much in LA recently), it seems that preparation can often speak louder than provenance. With OP’s experience at Kato, it appears that the dish didn’t really do the product justice. I haven’t dined at Kato, but it sounds like the way that the dish was constructed wasn’t very cohesive or it drowned out the caviar’s qualities. The dish reads that way to me, but admittedly it can be a fine line when dealing with a delicate and refined product.

I’ve had varied restaurant experiences with caviar from different locales, whether it’s caviar from Bulgaria, Belgium, or China, etc. and found that the very same caviar itself can taste quite differently. In one meal, I had GastroUnika’s gueldenstaedtii / baeri hybrid with a koji and konbu cream and it was a really offputting dish and then a couple of days later had it at a much more capable restaurant with pumpkin seeds and their water and it was an incredible dish. I get that the product itself can be great but I’m just saying that in the right hands, the product can be done justice when presented properly, or in other hands, an otherwise great product can be unfortunately overshadowed.

I want Kato to do well, though it seems like the menu may benefit from some focus. At least to me as an outsider, the food can present more interestingly. But, I’m rooting for them to find their footing as they evolve.


Wild caviar has been banned for export for awhile now. Hence the proliferation of farmed caviar in the world. Russia almost destroyed the sturgeon population in the Caspian sea so the exportation of any caviar from the Caspian sea was banned. As a trade off - companies were allowed to pull sturgeon from the Caspian sea and transport them to farms and still call them Russian Ossetra caviar. So when people are consuming Russian Ossetra, it’s most likely from a Chinese farm.

I’ve always argued that caviar manufacturing is PURPOSEFULLY deceitful to hide this fact to confuse and lead consumers away from anti Chinese label bias.

The ban was lifted for TINY quantities of export but at the time, the market was so heavily saturated by high quality Chinese/Israeli/Netherland farmed caviar that basically it became impossible for Russia to re-penetrate the market. Also most companies don’t want to be associated with harvesting nearly extinct sturgeon out of the Caspian sea, so they keep a wide berth from it and stick to high quality sustainably farmed products.

Ironically, if one was to get wild caviar from the Caspian sea, the best is probably from Iran as they have the deepest/coldest depths in as part of their land.


I’m not critical at all about @Chowseeker1999 not liking our caviar (or the dish prep), different strokes for different folks. I was just pushing back on his “shock” that a high end luxury good could be from china.


Thanks @clayfu . That is good to know. I remember hearing about caviar banned from the Caspian sea years ago, but since I’m not a big connoisseur of it, I didn’t realize that the replacement for the ban was mainly from China. Thank you for the info.

I did have a similar reaction of shock / surprise years ago, when I was dining at a sushi restaurant and they mentioned their Hon Maguro was from North Carolina. I was initially skeptical because prior to that point years ago, all I heard from my friends from Japan (and here in the States) was how great Japan’s Hon Maguro was (and that was all I was being served at various sushi bars back then). But the itamae said this was great and served it to us. It was delicious, well prepared and with great knifework. So I learned that day about North Carolina Hon Maguro (and since then, many other parts of the world outside of Japan for good Hon Maguro).

I appreciate the insight and now it’s no longer a surprise any more and instead, good food knowledge to have. Thanks.


Sounds great. I didn’t have that dish. Off memory, my favorites from when I lived mainly in SF and dined there from 2015-2018/2019-ish: abalone with roasted tomatillo broth / chayote / castelveltrano olive; lamb grilled over binchotan with charred ramps / chili yogurt mole / ramps sourdough; sanma with aguachile and wasabi / green apple / mitsuba. Smart pairings. I liked their “frijoles” dish before they put caviar on it; the early rendition of it with varied textures and pickled shallots was already excellent and justified in itself.

Good point, the difference is often about all those little details: knifework, handling/aging/storage; temperature, hand-pressing, rice’s formation/aeration, seasoning, stickiness, etc. Honmaguro from North Carolina, that’s news to me! I need to get out more and it’s been too long since I’ve had good sushi, anyway.

May I ask where in LA may be serving a particularly good presentation of your caviar at the moment? Looking forward to trying; thanks!


Thanks @BradFord for the recommendations and memories. :slight_smile: I loved Chef Cantu’s Frijoles as well back in the day. Did you ever get to try the: Bacalao Taco (Line Caught, Wild Black Cod, Secret Batter, Baja Sauce, Bitter Chicories and Key Limes, Sourdough Tortilla)?

Just a simple “Fish Taco” from Chef Cantu and team, but absolutely stunning. They really made the ingredients sing.

And also their: A Traditional Flan (made with Vanilla Pompona, from the birthplace of all Vanillas, Papantla, Veracruz, Mexico; with Pecan Caramel).

Stunning. Probably one of the best Flan we’ve ever had. Californios really paid homage to early Mexican cuisine when we went before the pandemic.

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I don’t remember that particular one. Looking back at some photos, I did have a fish taco…not sure if it’s that one specifically, though. I remember a mushroom taco on blue corn; I think it was maitakes.

Flan sounds delicious. I don’t remember that one, either. Perhaps it was subbed out because I don’t eat pecans or simply we went at different menus.

On a related note, it appears that chef David (the long time CDC) opened his own place in SF, restaurant Nisei.

Anyway, getting a bit far from the original subject of this thread, but can I ask what is your favorite place in greater Los Angeles area (incl. 626) for Taiwanese beef noodle soup at the moment? We liked your earlier recommendation of Corner Beef, but it’s been a while since we visited 626. Thanks!

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Thanks @BradFord. Let me know if you end up trying Nisei and how it is.

For Taiwanese beef noodle soup? My favorite right now is probably Cindy’s Kitchen. Get the Half Meat, Half Tendon version with Thick Noodles (you can choose Thin if you prefer). A huge thanks to @ipsedixit for that great rec.

Corner Beef Noodle has been in downhill alert for us (and a few friends in the SGV as well). I think during the pandemic / current, their turnover was lower and their product suffered. The beef shank and tendon sometimes tastes old (like it was made in a large batch days ago and reheated). We went twice over the past year or so and it’s not the same. Their Wontons also suffered. Very sad.

If you get to try Cindy’s let me know what you think. Enjoy! :slight_smile:

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Cindy’s Kitchen looks great, thanks! I do love tendon and thick noodles. I hope to try it soon.

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Cindy’s had a really good braised pork feet noodle soup a while back, but alas, no more.

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Haw flakes?

I loved that stuff as a kid.


In its first few years of existence, Kato’s tasting menu skirted well below that price per person at its no-frills strip mall location in West L.A. The everyman accessibility, as well Jon Yao’s innovative pan-Asian dishes, earned the small eatery critical acclaim at both the local and national level. Around 2019, the year Kato earned a Michelin star, the self-taught L.A. chef narrowed the menu’s focus to Taiwanese cuisine, including signature dishes inspired by his mother’s cooking. Now relocated to a much grander dining room within ROW DTLA, the restaurant has undergone a full-tilt transformation from scrappy Westside gem to definitive fine dining destination, with a significantly higher $225 price point to match.

At Kato 2.0, the food is exceptional, the surroundings dazzling, the service best-in-class, but a meal here, while still quite delicious and vividly evocative for Asian Americans in particular, lacks the scrappiness and casual appeal that first landed Yao on the map. Instead, the restaurant now offers a cost-prohibitive fine dining meal complete with bells and whistles—a fact that, Taiwanese nuances aside, renders Kato oddly indistinguishable from the rest of the pack.

(From a post on FTC.)