Food and Wine and GQ have heaped praise on Kato, a tiny restaurant in West LA serving an $85 tasting menu, influenced by Taiwanese, Japanese and California cuisine. If you’re on a budget, this may be an indulgence slightly out of reach. For those on a limited budget like me, Kato on occasion will offer a rare lunchtime service, where you can order a single entree.
This 27-seat restaurant is hidden in a two-story mini mall, lost behind a couple of Mexican restaurants. I drove by twice and not seeing it, parked my car on the street and then wandered into the complex. With a nondescript exterior, Kato would have escaped my view, if not for the name written in bright pink letters on the door.
The decor is quite minimalistic, with disposable chopsticks in a tea canister serving as table decoration. When they do offer lunch, you order at the counter and find a place to sit. On this rare occasion, there were three entrees – the fried chicken sandwich, pork belly bowl and a chirashi bowl. For me, this was a no brainer – fried chicken sandwich, for sure.
I’m not sure if it’s because I got there 20 minutes before closing, but my food came in a biodegradable takeaway box. The chicken was prepared Taiwanese-style, seasoned with a crispy coating. The chicken was tender and juicy.
The chicken was topped with a spicy slaw with Thai red chiles and basil, which gave the sandwich an added kick. It was fantastically delicious and easily one of the best things I ate last year.
I was thwarted on attempting another lunchtime visit by a broken garage door (grrrr) and was unable to try the pork belly bowl. For those more flush with cash, both the fried chicken sandwich and the pork belly bowl are offered as supplemental add-ons to the tasting menu. As for me, I’m keeping my eyes peeled for the next lunchtime announcement.
Location – 11925 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles 90025
Website – https://www.katorestaurant.com
Kid’s Menu – No
Vegetarian/Vegan Friendly – No