One of LA’s most celebrated tasting menu restaurants, the Michelin-starred Kato, has reopened during the current pandemic, becoming just the latest fine-dining Los Angeles staple to attempt to navigate a new world of takeout, online preorders, and physical distancing.
Kato’s new menu, Eater has learned, will begin on Wednesday, May 13. The plan is to offer a $60 per-person complete meal experience, with dishes like smashed cucumber salad and Taiwanese specialties from chef Jon Yao like lu rou fan (braised pork over rice) and steamed fish with ginger and scallion, as well as three-cup wagyu short rib and a buttermilk pudding with kaya, pineapple, and coconut for dessert.
Yao first closed his tiny strip mall restaurant Kato back on March 15, the same day that Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti announced the mandatory closure of dining rooms citywide. The restaurant has not offered takeout or delivery at all since then, even as other restaurants like Bestia, Bavel, Rossoblu, and Rustic Canyon have returned to life with similar per-person, all-inclusive meals. Every other restaurant around the city is either still offering an a la carte menu or at-home taco kits and cocktails, or some hybrid of all models while attempting to survive the shutdown.
The return of Kato marks an interesting moment for Southern California dining, as state governor Gavin Newsom considers a regionally-specific reopening plan for different counties — including nearby Riverside, Ventura, and Orange — in the coming weeks. Regardless of the timeline, it’s likely that reopened dining rooms will look dramatically different than the restaurants of 2019, with calls for reduced capacity, personal protective equipment on staff members, and other health and safety measures in place.
Given this new reality, other restaurants are also starting to come back on line this week. They include Love & Salt, the Italian staple in Manhattan Beach; Both Sushi Bar and Scratch Bar in Encino and up in Montecito; and the similarly Michelin-starred Kali restaurant on Melrose. Kato’s menu will change weekly, and currently runs $60 per person.