A month or so ago I was shooting the shit with Jon Yao and asked him what he’d like to do as Kato evolves. He joked that he would love to do a shared dish supplement that’s served family style, maybe a whole Kasugodai steamed as a supplemental course or even push the restaurant to showcase more traditional cuisine in a very high level setting like Chairman in Hong Kong.
I told him i’d be down to try it if he served it and didn’t really think much of it.
I had a friend coming in from out of town and a couple local friends that haven’t been to Kato before, so I booked a reservation for this week. A few days before dinner Jon messaged me and asked if I wanted to do a full Chinese Banquet family-style meal or just stick to the regular menu with a couple of supplements. It’d be more expensive since it’s just the four of us, but knowing his passion for pushing our cuisine forward, I told him to go all out for the family-style meal. Boy did he deliver.
Only thing I told him at the end, was it’d be really cool to just have rice at the ready once you get into the heavier mains. Not just with the Tile Fish. The sauces and aromatics are so good that we’re just scooping them up to eat by themselves, but would be even better with rice. Also from an economic perspective, people will get fuller quicker
Hopefully, he does this as some pre order supplemental offerings or maybe a private dining room offering. I’d definitely eat this all again. This is the finest rendition of classic Chinese & Taiwanese food I’ve ever eaten in America. There’s no one else close to doing high end banquet food.
Hokkaido Hair Crab and Uni
Despite the uni mixed into the crab, it still felt very elegant. The uni just boosted the fat profile of the crab. Delicious.
Geoduck and cilantro salad
spicy, sour, savroy, great QQ
Cucumber & Mullet roe
A FANTASTIC take on a taiwanese classic cucumber dish. Adorned with thinly sliced taiwanese mullet roe. I was surprised that even when cut thin, the mullet roe still has that fantastic thick chew to it
Pig Ear & Sesame
A dish that’s already on the menu but served flat and to be eaten with a fork and knife, he wrapped these up so they’d be in an easy to grab chopstick bite, so you get all of the flavors. I love the veggies and sauce on this dish, I didn’t eat the pig ear due to dietary restrictions, but I am stunned by this flavor combination each time I eat it.
Dungness crab custard & Astrea Kaluga Caviar
This is a dish that’s on the main tasting menu and in the same form. Loaded with fish maw, crab, with a custard base. Strong red vinegar notes wrapped in with the smoky seafood broth. I love this dish. Michelin named it one of their top 5 dishes in CA this year and there’s a reason for it.
Typhoon Shelter Spot Prawn
My favorite dish of the night and I think most of the table. Lightly fried live Santa Barbara Spot prawns in a huge amount of fried garlic, jalapenos, cilantro, green onions and chili peppers. We devoured them. Only chili peppers left standing. If we had some rice we would have just crushed every bit of everything over the rice.
Fish Fragrant Japanese Tile FIsh
His take on the traditional Douban Yu - the chili bean sauce fish. Except he’s using super fresh whole chilis that are incredibly soft and sweet inside the sauce (can’t see it until you mix the sauce up). There’s so much depth of flavor in this dish. Earthy, Rich, Spice laden. Tile fish is perfectly crunchy on top and flaky on the inside.
Served with white rice as any good Douban based dish would.
California Abalone & Basil
Thinly sliced live abalone tossed in an aromatic basil sauce akin to the same flavor profile you get at Taiwanese Beer House Clam and basil dishes. Really deep soy sauce reduction and the thai basil is aromatic and beautiful. I just found myself constantly picking at these slivers of abalone. Like the mullet roe, it somehow retained its chewiness despite the thinness. Excellent.
Whole steamed Nodoguru
Ridiculous. Absolutely ridiculous. I think a whole Nodoguru would need to be a $300 supplement at a restaurant due to the price lol. I love his take on the classic steamed fish herb aromatics, the scallons thinly shaved and lightly cooked from the hot oil. The soy sauce is incredibly delicate and fragrant. Steamed Nodoguru is my new jam, had it a couple times now and I prefer the prep over grilled. I know sacreblu
Unagi & Sticky Rice
This was the dish I was most excited to try. It’s not a super popular dish in LA, only place I can think of is Duck House in MPK that does a version of it in a steamer. He chars the skin to make it nice and crispy but the flesh is soft and delicate still. The sticky rice is the real winner though, just screams taiwanese classic. Mushrooms, dry shrimp etc all wrapped into a wonderful chew.
Mango shaved ice
It’s summertime. In taiwan you gotta get Mango Shaved ice and it’s now Wong’s Family Farm Valencia season. Freshly shaved snowy ice, coconut jelly and mango at the bottom, mango full fat cream on the top. My friend was so stuffed from the meal he could only eat half of it, so I had 1.5 of these puppies.
Blueberry roll cake
salted egg yolk puff
This is the best Chinese baked good in LA. I’ll fight anyone that disagrees