Chef Jon Yao steers the ship at Kato, deftly preparing contemporary Asian cuisine that is at once simple and complex. The small dining room may look spare but is in fact warm and lively, with a casual team of servers effectively managing each table and proving themselves knowledgeable and passionate about the cooking here. Chef Yao is unafraid of change and often tweaks the menu based on availability or even his own whim. No matter, since you're in for a consistently creative, often quirky experience.
WIth just one carte, the kitchen turns out dishes that are as elegant as they are inventive. Take the kombu-cured kanpachi. Served with pickled cucumbers in a tomato water dashi, it arrives as a bundle while the tomato water adds a bit of acidic sweetness. Ocean trout, paired with roe and crisped skin, is a revelation; just as the monochromatic elderflower frozen yogurt and granita delivers multi-dimensional flavors. Yet, it is their riff on a classic milk boba, served with a tangy cheese foam garnished with brown butter sable, that takes the cake.
You may have to bring your own bevvy here, but there is no corkage fee and sips like yuzu lemonade or strawberry soda are notably quenching.