Kato, Marciano Foundation and Kismet

Sometimes creative food works and sometimes it doesn’t but most of the time you just have to give the chef the nod.  We had dinner at Kato this past week.  It is located in a random strip mall in LA with no sign and the windows are blocked out with a white glaze.  The place has been open for two years.  Space is sparse and there is no liquor license.  You can’t open liquor on the premises so BYOB is worthless unless of course, you want to head out the door when nobody is looking and take a swig.  They do serve a delicious tea which seemed to work.

The menu is a set so you get what you get.  There were some highs and some lows but the creativity is impressive.  The highlights were a crispy rice square with brown butter and uni.  This combination of flavor and textures were amazing and the whole thing almost melted in your mouth.

A fried chicken wing stuffed with mushrooms and ginger.  You weren’t expecting that from the way it looks.

Creamy porridge topped with a steamed egg and bacon washed buns for dipping.  So clever.  The rest of the meal was good but those were my three faves.  There was a pineapple bun that was stuffed with foie gras that had a combo of sweet and savory so they served it at the end of the savory portion of the meal before moving into sweet but it was so rich, I wish it was earlier on.

We returned to the Marciano Foundation to see the Olafur Elliason Reality Projector installation.  You have to get tickets although free of charge as they want to set the cadence of people coming through there.  I have to say it is really nice because the place just isn’t that busy so it gives you space to really enjoy the work.  It is a site-specific piece created with light and glass that creates this fully immersive experience in one huge room with color and movement.  It is definitely worth seeing.

The foundation is housed in a Scottish Rite Masonic Temple built in 1961.  It is amazing.  The large backfire stairs show how this building was built with poured concrete.  It is like a rock.  Looking from the mezzanine there is an installation from Alex Israel who painted a historic mural that portrays Los Angeles.  It is called Valet Parking.  It is amazing.

Upstairs are the galleries and most of the artists I have never heard of before which makes the whole experience really intriguing.  Marciano collected these works and now sharing it with the public.  We get to see the work in this big expansive space that couldn’t be more perfect to show art.

That evening we went to Nomad for a drink.  Having just opened downtown, I really wanted to get there before we leave.  The menu is the same as NYC so drinks were all we needed.  The renovated space is beautiful.  This building was built in 1920 as the Bank of Italy.  I had to capture the ceiling overlooking the space.  They have made a nod to the old with the space and it is quite beautiful.

Dinner was at Kismet.  Another beautiful space.  Warm soft light woods hold the place from the floor to crawling up the walls for the banquettes.  It is all about simplicity.  The vibe is similar to Jon and Vinny’s and they have taken some cues from them as well (note the owners of Jon and Vinny’s are partners with the two women behind Kismet).  Restaurants need a new paradigm to survive and making sure that you turn the tables quickly while still making the experience tops is what they have figured out.  Not the greatest if you want to make a night of it but the food and experience are so good that you leave happy and want to come back so the concept works.  Someone (or them) need to come up with a great bar or something next door to extend the evening.

This place defines LA and millennials down to the orange wines, the small plates and the unique mixture of clean fresh food to share.  Marinated mussels with pickled shallots, currants, and parsley.  Plump perfect mussels with just a hint of flavors were so simple and so delicious.

Fried cauliflower with a caper yogurt.

Lamb belly fell apart like butter mixed with a crispy roasted cabbage with carob and Meyer lemon.

Dessert was incredible.  Honey yogurt with crispy filo cracker.  We went home very happy.

Comments (Archived):

  1. awaldstein

    Need to get to Kismet.You inspire me when I work there on the West side to get out and head to other parts. It’s hard sometime though as travel requires fortitude in LA and laziness often sets in.

    1. Gotham Gal

      Most people on the west side don’t go west of the 405.

      1. awaldstein

        When I first moved there to start RealD, office was in BH and I lived in West Hollywood so my experience was different–more driving but way more diversity.

  2. Sierra Choi

    Some of the food looks incredibly delectable – esp the fried cauliflower. You should have a vlog, Joanne! “In the City with Gotham Gal” 😀