Chef Katie Liu-Sung shows her personality through street food at Stray Kat
Chewology has been rumored to bring world-class Taiwanese food to their spot in Westport. Head Chef and Owner Chef Katie Liu–Sung run the show, serving small plates and dumplings. They also offer a special menu during their regular business hours that change frequently, and it’s called Stray Kat. To experience the special dining experience, you need to make a reservation and pay in advance. Chef Katie shows guests the dishes that make up her most memorable memories of growing up around Taiwanese food.
Upon entering, I was greeted by the host and the bartender. I was taken to a room behind the bar that gave off a glow from the neon lights reflecting off gold décor. The kitchen is open and intimate, looking over the tables. I was handed a small menu with unusual dishes like “Late Night After A Movie” and “2nd Grade at a Wedding.” Chef Katie was able to drop off some of our dishes and explain the memory that inspired each one.
The first course warms your conversation with a beer and your stomach with a small bar snack—crunchy, salty, sweet, and spicy. This theme continues throughout the night: explosive flavors, perfect contrast in texture, and a cinema of memories that felt like my own.
The second course dropped included three small plates: napa cabbage salad with a creamy citrus dressing, topped with a thinly sliced chewy pig ear; sesame oil marinated bean sprouts that were dressed perfectly, bursting with flavor and boba texture; and a small fried hash brown with a crunchy outside and smooth inside filled with a traditional fish called mentaiko.
The third course followed was a spring roll named “Vietnamese Wives in Taiwan,” loaded with tempura oysters, carrots, and bok choy, offering a nice contrast of crisp and freshness.
Following the third course were three dumplings named after three memories, all bringing some nice classic flavors: a soup dumpling with chicken broth and pork meat; a second dumpling with staple flavors of garlic, chili, ginger, and shrimp; the third dumpling was vegetarian and tasted almost like an egg roll.
The following course was more of a palate cleanser with a rich and foamy coconut milk base, topped with salmon, salty roe, and a sweet crunch of dashi. Then we focused on some traditional Taiwanese meat dishes: “Late Night After a Movie” and House Sitting”—a sample of tender short rib showered with a tangy ponzu sauce and shaved egg yolk giving it that extra salty bite. In Taiwan, they are not strangers to typhoons and tropical storms. Chef Katie explained her last entrée dish carefully, as it was a special dish that brought the people of Taiwan together during these storms. While hiding out, they would prepare Dungeness crab in “typhoon sauce.” This dish was very special. I don’t eat crab very much here in the Midwest, and the typhoon sauce left me speechless, with flavors that were rich, gingery, and herbal.
We ended the night with a subtle, sweet dessert—honey cake with lavender and canned peaches.
Chef Katie brings Thai street food into the Kansas City spotlight, not with high price points and over-the-top presentation, but with passion, experience, and creativity.
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Photos by Kyle Wisecarver