You could say we were divinely inspired to have lunch at Kata last week.
Craving some sushi and Asian flavors, I did a double-take at photos of Kata that I found online – a group of saffron-clad Tibetan monks casually seated in booths enjoying some cuisine and conversation.
Well, if Kata is good enough for Tibetan Buddhist holy men, it would be good enough for my lunch meeting. Kata is a busy place. There were no monks in the house last Thursday, but as soon as the proverbial lunch hour whistle rang at nearby government offices and the courthouse, every table was full.
The dining room is pleasant and nicely decorated, lively but still quiet enough to talk. I especially like the high-backed booths and the attractive lighting fixtures.
Typically Asian restaurants go heavy with red and black decor, but Kata has opted for soothing neutrals – hues of caramel, chocolate and cappuccino – with just a pop of red in the napkin rolls on the table. It works well and gives the place an upscale feel.
We ordered a pot of tea ($2.50), which was served hot and after sufficient steeping was a rich and flavorful green.
For appetizers we chose the Fresh Basil Rolls ($5.99), two light and tasty rolls made with cooked shrimp, cucumber, basil, iceberg lettuce and rice noodles wrapped in rice paper and served with ponzu sauce for dipping. It was like a refreshing salad in a convenient roll.
We also ordered the Yakitori ($6.99), an attractively presented plate of angled skewers of tender, juicy grilled chicken breast and onions glazed with a flavorful teriyaki sauce.
I ordered a third appetizer as my entree, as I was intrigued by a Hamachi Kama ($9.99) dish listed as “Grilled Yellowtail Jaw.” I suspected this meant the delicacy of the cheek meat of the snapper, and verified this with our friendly server. I knew from my younger days fishing in the Florida Keys that the cheek or collar meat is the best part of the delicate yellowtail snapper.
Grilled on the bone with the charred fins still attached, it is a great option if you’re not in the mood for raw fish but still want something really special.
Rich, sweet and flavorful, all it needs is a squeeze of lemon and a fork, it’s fall-apart tender. My fish was perfectly cooked and wonderful.
My companion selected a Shrimp Bento Box lunch ($10.99), which is a good bet if you want to try several different items, or if you don’t quite know what to pick from the voluminous menu.
Her comments were that while the teriyaki shrimp and vegetable dish is delectable, the shortage of shrimp in the dish leaves you craving more. The small portion of shrimp and veggies – mostly onion, broccoli and carrots – also comes with fluffy white rice, tender fried white fish, four pieces of sushi with crab and two tasty fried California rolls crisped to perfection. Overall a terrific place for a productive work lunch downtown, for $39, plus tip.
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The reviewer dines anonymously at restaurants at the expense of Vero Beach 32963.
Kata Japanese & Thai Restaurant
- Hours: 11:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. & 4:30 – 9:30 p.m. Monday through Friday; Noon – 2:30 p.m. & 4:30 to 9:30 p.m. Saturday & Sunday
- Beverages: Full Liquor Bar
- Address: 1306 20th St., Downtown Vero Beach
- Phone: 772-564-8883