See why Kato is No. 1 on our critics’ 2019 Best 101 Restaurants list

Three cup abalone. Steamed turbot fragrant with a ginger and scallion relish. Chawanmushi threaded with Dungeness crab. A dessert of chewy sweet potato spheres that plays on boba. At his tiny West L.A. tasting menu restaurant Kato, chef Jon Yao interprets the foods of his Taiwanese heritage with extraordinary vision and heart.

Critics Bill Addison and Patricia Escárcega chose Kato as their number one restaurant on the Times’ annual 101 Best Restaurants list.

Yao’s parents originally leased the space to run a catering operation; instead, the 28 year old took over the place and spent the last three years shaping his culinary identity through evolving tasting menus. (An 11-course dinner costs $118 per person; a brand-new option with luxury supplements and extra courses boosts the price to $188.) He found himself most connected to cooking, and saw his diners most delighted, when he began unpacking and rewiring Taiwanese flavors.

Kato has a hushed elegance, yet Yao’s fantastic front-of-house team keeps the pace energetic and the mood upbeat. (The restaurant does not have a liquor license; you are welcome to bring beverages.)

It is a singular Los Angeles culinary experience — one that promises to keep reaching and changing in exhilarating ways.