Thursday, December 28, 2017

Re-Invention of Taiwanese Cuisines at Kato

There's seemed to be a modernization going on in the world of dining these days. Where else can you find comfort food being remade into something along the lines of fancy dining? Maybe it's the chance to make something simple into a delicious work of art and upcharge the thing like crazy.
Think avocado toast or grilled cheese sandwiches these days
Recently I was made aware in that Taiwanese food was being re-imagine by a few restaurateurs in town. First, I think I heard of "Pine & Crane" in the Silverlake area, who somehow was able to cater some simple dishes to hipsters in that part of the town with some of the easier to do Dim Sum dishes (not Taiwanese, but many smaller plates are Taiwanese).
Smoked Hamachi with cucumber and charred scallions

Then I heard on the westside in Mar Vista, a place called "Status Kuo" was opened up with a cocktail bar and fancied up some traditional Taiwanese for those clientele who are not familiar with the street fare of ROC. The location changed its name to "Little Fatty" with the bar attached called "Accomplice". Then in Chinatown, another addition called Lao Tao" opened up with a huge fanfare for all those craving for a higher tasting than the standard popcorn chicken that you get in a Boba Tea Cafes.

All those above places I have mentioned will be on my future post (if I don't take another sabbatical), but they all didn't take the challenge of a place I am going to write about, which have stood out to take it a whole new level.

Kato is situated in a plaza with no signage indicating this place does exist. If you called in to make reservation for their weekend tasting menu, the person on the phone will indicate you might get lost and proceed to give you the stop by stop instructions on how to get to this restaurant. It does occur to me in that they might have experienced high volume of people who had gotten lost finding the place.

Guava shaved ice with buttermilk pudding (swipe the right arrow button to see the Trout)

One thing I learned about this Taiwanese inspired dishes that is trained in Japanese cooking method, was that there are no boundaries to the imagination of some the dishes I was so accustomed to. Taiwanese food has never looked so fancy!

Seafood Congee with uni and Dungeness crab

I came by a few times trying out their tasting menu which was reasonably priced at $55. It depends on the week's California farm to table ingredients the restaurant was able to acquired. Menu items can range from seafood fare to a few poultry dishes and ends with a dessert inspired by a mix of Sino-Japanese sweets.

Fried chicken sandwich

The few times I went, I was able to get the regular menu scheduled Smoked Hamachi dish and the corn porridge dish. When you think the homeyness and the street food versions, you couldn't imagine how these food would look if they were able to find ways to dress it up and make it more appealing.

Beef flavored noodle soup with pork belly with soy egg

After the desserts, you can also put in one of the "supplements" they are offering in addition to the tasting menu. Most of the time, I imagined it was the fried chicken burger, but I lucked out on one occasion to get the beef noodle soup which turns out to be a fantastic treat. The chicken burger has many variations, so be on the look out for that as well.

My overall impression of the dining experience was that they use a clean minimalist look for the dining experience with an interesting music selection. The early part of last year and this year also expose to me in that they haven't gotten their liquor license yet, but they were anxious in getting the restaurant in full mode that they will serve certain Taiwanese soda beverages and restaurant made teas for your refreshments.

I come out with a good sense that there are ways to modernize Taiwanese dishes and this place does a wonderful upscale dining without sacrificing the origins of their dishes.

Now if only we can get more fine dining in Taiwanese fares instead of more boba tea shops cafe style food......

11925 Santa Monica Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90025

Kato Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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