Kato Taiwanese Tasting Menu in a Strip Mall

Tucked in the corner of a Sawtelle strip mall, practically hidden from view, is Kato, where 28-year-old self-taught chef Jon Yao is showcasing the Taiwanese flavors of his childhood. Kato has a mandatory tasting menu and received a Michelin star last year, but the restaurant is anything but uptight. There’s no dress code here – in fact, most of the hipster clientele are clad in sweatpants and cross-body fanny packs. It’s a sparsely decorated room with a chill vibe and a fun playlist. The menu is seafood-focused, simply prepared, and inspired by Jon’s family recipes and the food he ate growing up in the San Gabriel Valley. Some of our favorite dishes were the California sea bream, cured in kelp, and served with a Meyer lemon sauce; the corn soup topped with onion cream, caviar, and an egg yolk; the grilled wagyu short rib with matsutake mushrooms, truffle, and roasted oxtail sauce; and the dessert of yam tapioca balls, cheese foam, and shaved brown butter sablée.

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Kato serves a Taiwanese tasting menu in a strip mall.
Kato serves a Taiwanese tasting menu in a strip mall.
Kato is BYOB – so, naturally, we brought our girl Winifred!
Kato is BYOB – so, naturally, we brought our girl Winifred!
Chef Jon Yao is only 28 years old.
Chef Jon Yao is only 28 years old.
Kaluga caviar, onion cream, egg yolk, and corn soup.
Kaluga caviar, onion cream, egg yolk, and corn soup.
California sea bream cured in kelp, with Meyer lemon and yuzu.
California sea bream cured in kelp, with Meyer lemon and yuzu.
California spiny lobster with roasted sesame chili oil.
California spiny lobster with roasted sesame chili oil.
Yam tapioca, cheese foam, and shaved brown butter sable.
Yam tapioca, cheese foam, and shaved brown butter sable.

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