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Jonathan Gold Can't Figure Out If He Likes West LA's Kato or Not

Does he like it? It’s hard to say

Kato West LA Interior Matthew Kang
Matthew Kang is the Lead Editor of Eater LA. He has covered dining, restaurants, food culture, and nightlife in Los Angeles since 2008. He's the host of K-Town, a YouTube series covering Korean food in America, and has been featured in Netflix's Street Food show.

The Goldster’s latest review feels like he isn’t willing to give too much praise just because he wasn’t the first person to discover it. Plucky Westside tasting menu contender Kato, which received a Best New Restaurant nod from GQ not too long ago, gets the LA Times review treatment, and it doesn’t feel like the #bellyofLosAngeles had too many qualitative things to say. One can almost feel the disdain dripping from the third paragraph:

Are there tiny blossoms on everything? Pretty much. Do Yao’s sauces tend to lean a little too often toward flavored mayonnaise? Perhaps. Do his dishes veer between French and various Asian flavors in a way that seems more like ’80s fusion at places like Chaya Brasserie than they do to the abstracted modernist cuisine at places like Manresa and Coi? Indeed, but in a way that seems very much of the time.

Then more, especially on the photogenic nature of the food (and those edible flowers):

The white blossoms sprinkled over the top smelled like cilantro. You picked up the bundle and ate it like a taco. You probably took a picture of it first.

Basically until halfway through the review does The Goldster actually comment on any of the food because he’s just literally describing dishes for the first few hundred words. About the only real positive statement is toward the end, with this short line:

The dishes are clean, direct, small and tend to focus on vegetables and seafood

Even then, Jonathan Gold doesn’t actually seem to review Kato. He just writes about the edible flowers and how everything seems ready to be snapped with a camera phone. He does mention that Kato “isn’t cheap,” though the modest tasting menu price of $55 would add up to what one would pay at a “small-plates dive or gastropub.”

There’s a certain point at which one wonders what the point of having a non-anonymous, Pulitzer Prize-winning critic for the city’s most celebrated news publication when all he’s doing is describing what he sees on the plate. It’s as if the review is just a word version of Kato’s Instagram feed.