Restaurant: Kato Restaurant [1, 2, 3, 4]
Location: 777 S Alameda St Building 1, Suite 114, Los Angeles, CA 90021. (213) 797-5770
Date: October 13, 2022
Cuisine: Omakase Asian
Rating: Even better, but too far
In late 2021 Kato, a longstanding modern Asian omakase/kaiseki in Santa Monica shut up shop and moved downtown to a larger, far more glamorous space. Erick and I were bummed because there are so few unique places on the westside — and well the Row is FAR!
The nominal excuse for tonight’s dinner was the rare appearance of Reisa back in LA, so Eve organized this dinner. She’s an investor (and caviar supplier) for Kato.
Kato is right around the corner from Hayato.
The interior is sleek.
We had this nice large sized table.
The minimalist menu (not much in the way of descriptors).
I think we bought this off the list. Despite Eve being very tight with Kato, no one senior was in and she had forgotten to arrange something with regard to the corkage — and they have that idiotic 2 bottle limit. What sense does it make that a 2 person table and an 8 person table can open the same number of wines? The Kato list is decent, but it’s young, small, and pretty marked up. Plus we just have way too much wine to be buying off LA lists. After a while they forgot about us and our wine hijinks and we manged well enough.
Chicken Liver, genmaicha, date. Super yummy “liver macaron” style bite.
Sweet Shrimp, seaweed, shaoxing wine. Very interesting blend of flavors being part Japanese and part Chinese. The Shaoxing wine is very distinct.
Scallop, soy preserves, doubanjiang. Yummy little scallop tart with nice textures and a bit of heat to finish.
Sea urchin, Iberico ham, brown butter. Basically a puff pastry/donut hole stuffed with uni and wrapped in ham.
2017 Dr. Loosen Ürziger Würzgarten Riesling Großes Gewächs. Probably. Loosen has so many cuvees it was hard to tell which dry Ürziger Würzgarten this was. I picked it off the list.
Black throat sea perch, Tomato and tomato water jelly, shiso. Awesome dish with very pleasant tomato flavors and a bright acidity. I don’t even like (raw) tomatoes and I loved it.
Caviar, dungeness crab, garlic. This is more or less a Kato classic and I’ve had it a bunch of times but it’s still creamy and delicious.
Milk bread. Awesome sweet and fluffy bread. Addictive in fact.
Normandy style butter. Bread was even better with this nice butter.
From my cellar: 2009 François Raveneau Chablis 1er Cru Montée de Tonnerre. BH 93. Subtle wood sets off aromas of flowers, oyster shell and tidal pool that complement perfectly the racy, pure and strikingly well-detailed medium plus weight flavors that brim with minerality on the delicious, mouth coating and impressively long finish. This beautifully vibrant and concentrated effort should drink well young and age well too plus it’s more classic in style than many wines from this vintage. (Drink starting 2016)
Tilefish, fish fragrant sauce, Szechuan peppercorn. This is like that French seabass dish with the crispy scales but with a sticky numbing sauce!
1985 Faiveley Latricières-Chambertin. BH 92. Some bricking. The nose is a complex mixture of Gevrey earth, spice, game, underbrush and an evident nose of minerality followed by powerful, intense and still moderately structured flavors with plenty of punch and length. The finish is still firm though by no means hard and while this is certainly approachable now, I would give it 45 minutes or so of air. Note: another recent bottle was similar in character but did not possess the same degree of freshness and in particular, the finish seemed somewhat light and diffuse.
Duck, menegi, duck sausage. Great duck. Super tender, a bit sweet and delicious. The spring rolls off to the side with the sausage were even better.
1999 Domaine Marquis d’Angerville Volnay 1er Cru Clos des Ducs. VM 96. Good dark red. Seriously rich, deep aromas of black cherry, currant, tobacco, chocolate and sexy soil tones, plus a whiff of leather that adds complexity. Wonderfully rich, deep, tactile Volnay with a remarkably chewy texture and outstanding dimension to its flavors of strawberry, redcurrant, mocha, tobacco and cocoa powder. The salty, monumental finish features huge, mouthcoating tannins and outstanding rising length. This very complete wine boasts uncanny depth of flavor, particularly in light of the vintage’s healthy yields. By far the best bottle of this wine that I have tasted to date. (13.45% alcohol; September 24 harvest; 41 h/h; 3.37 pH) (Drink between 2019-2039)
A5 Wagyu, beef tendon, sour Chinese mustard. Super tender and rich. Quite nice.
2011 Jean-Claude Boisset Echezeaux. BH91. A ripe, spicy and violet-inflected nose of primarily plum and cassis gives way to opulent, rich and pliant medium-bodied flavors that possess very good depth on the attractively well-balanced finish where a touch of wood can be discerned. In much the same fashion as several other wines in the range this isn’t a great 2011 but it manages to avoid any shortcomings of the vintage and indeed about the only nit is a slight touch of warmth. Note that this could easily be enjoyed now if desired though it should also be capable of rewarding up to a decade of cellar time. (Drink starting 2018)
Freshwater eel, rice, cucumber. More or less like a Japanese rice, but without that Japanese flavor.
Cucumber with a bit of Szechuan peppercorn. I really liked the pickles and was munching them for a while.
Off the list grappa.
Passionfruit, buttermilk, guava. I love passionfruit and I love custard, so this “pot ‘o creme” with passionfruit was an easy sell.
Creme Puff, salted egg. Fine.
Hazelnut, caramelized white chocolate. Like a sweet spaghetti with a white chocolate meatball hiding inside.
Double Mint Oreo — Base made with Fresh Spring Mint infused milk and then laced with Crushed Mint Oreo Thins and Chopped Valrhona 70% Chocolate! — made by me for @sweetmilkgelato — lovely strong mint flavor and color is all natural — #SweetMilkGelato #gelato #dessert #icecream #FrozenDessert #nomnom #dessertlovers #dessertporn #icecreamlovers #gelatoitaliano #foodporn #gelatolover #dessertgasm #foodphotography #gelatoartigianale #gelatomania #dessertlover #icecream #icecreamlovers #mint #valrhona #chocolate #oreo ///// Triple Chocolate Cruch Gelato – The base is made with Valrhona 62% Satilla Chocolate and then layered with Dark Chocolate Cream Cheese Ganache and chopped Nestlé Crunch! — made by me for @sweetmilkgelato — #SweetMilkGelato #gelato #dessert #icecream #FrozenDessert #nomnom #dessertlovers #dessertporn #icecreamlovers #gelatoitaliano #foodporn #gelatolover #food #foodgasm #foodblogger #dessertgasm #desserttime #foodphotography #gelatoartigianale #gelatomania #dessertlover #icecream #icecreamlovers #Valrhona #chocolate #creamcheese #ganache #icing #NestléCrunch
Eve brought several tubs of bonus Astrea Caviar! Yummy!
Take home gift.
Almond sesame “cookies.”
Food at Kato is better than ever. It’s just as cryptic, but there are perhaps slightly more courses and a few of them are slightly larger. The net effect is that it’s not completely necessary anymore to go for second dinner. Back in Santa Monica, even with all the supplements, it always required something else. Now it’s a full meal, and surprising and delicious at that. But it’s also a trek to downtown. And that whole wine thing dragged out what was like a 8:30pm start into a 9:30pm start and we got home at about 2am.
Still, awesome and unique food, and highly worth checking out if you haven’t been.
For more LA dining reviews click here.