If Bruce Lee Had Been a Restaurant

Tucked in a corner of a garden-variety strip mall, Kato looks like an unremarkable restaurant from the outside. A door with the name of the establishment in pink cursive—think the color of Pepto-Bismol—opens to a small space of less than 1,000 square feet and just twenty-seven seats. Perhaps fewer. Several steps to the back, directly behind the curtains, reveals an even tinier kitchen with just one refrigerator. Named after the 1960s television character played by the revered martial artist Bruce Lee in The Green Hornet, a restaurant with such physical limitations would seem to make a poor namesake. But misjudging Kato by its size would be a mistake. Despite its constraints, this west Los Angeles spot, helmed by the young and highly capable Chef Jon Yao, produces some of the best fine-dining cuisine in all of California.

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A Lucid Dream Named Somni

When speaking to foodies knowledgeable about dining in Los Angeles, they are likely to point you toward the city’s tremendous offerings of ethnic cuisines. A quick Google search will validate their assured opinions. You have popular neighborhoods that begin with either “Thai”, “China”, or “Korea”, appended with the word “town” at the end. And you also have Little Armenia, Little Ethiopia, and Little Tokyo—each is a microcosm of their international counterpart. From north to south and east to west, some of the best taco trucks anywhere are scattered throughout the city, both famous establishments and hard-to-locate ones parked at obscure street corners. Ethnic foods certainly have a powerful foothold here as evidenced by its ubiquity and its seemingly 24/7 availability.

There is, however, another side to LA’s culinary scene: fine dining.

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