Acclaimed Tasting-Menu Spot Kato Has Been Reborn in DTLA

The new Kato, which serves Taiwanese American tasting menus, is reopening at the Row DTLA this month
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At Kato, Jon Yao earned a Michelin star and became one of the city’s most lauded young chefs by serving Taiwanese American tasting menus in a cramped West L.A. strip-mall space with no liquor license.

Now L.A. gets to see what the 30-year-old can do with more—4,500-square-feet, a wood-burning oven and hearth, a wine list—when he moves Kato to Row DTLA this month.
The new Kato will have $195, seafood-focused tasting menus with about 13 courses. Dishes might include a hot version of the chilled three-cup California abalone Yao served at the original space. The menu will showcase ingredients like Astrea caviar, but there won’t be supplemental charges for such luxuries.

“One of the big things Jon and I have had conversations about is when you go to a restaurant and they supplement you to death,” says partner and wine director Ryan Bailey, 34. “Guests feel insecure and guilt-tripped into buying more.”

Given that Kato will serve seafood and umami-rich sauces, Bailey will pair dishes with “lighter, more high-toned, and acidic” red wines, like pinot noir, and slightly oxidative whites, like vin jaune from the Jura in France.

Yao and his partners want to preserve Kato’s scrappy, independent spirit. They’ve removed tables from the sprawling space that was previously home to M. Georgina, so that the dining room seats just 52 people.

Previously, Yao said that he wants three Michelin stars, but he now believes that upholding his own ideals is what’s most important.

“It would be great if we got those Michelin stars, but what’s even a better goal is having this tangible, unmovable standard that’s set in front of everyone and that everyone has to strive for,” he says. “If we can achieve this on our own terms, that would make me extremely happy.”

777 S. Alameda St., downtown, katorestaurant.com.


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