Special October Menu At Chaya!
If you're a regular follower of my blog, then you probably know that I'm quite apprehensive when it comes to eating Asian-fusion food. One of the handful of places that has been able to pull it off is Chaya. You may remember my previous coverage of Chaya Venice during their once a year garlic festival where I had 10+ courses all doused in garlic. This time, I visited Chaya Downtown to celebrate their five year anniversary dinner for two. The special, three-course menu is available from now until the end of October for only $55. The three-course menu includes three courses to be shared, including more unique dishes like Miyazaki Wagyu beef carpaccio, sake-steamed branzino and pumpkin tiramisu.
What I love about Chaya is that they constantly change up their menu and innovate new items. Although there are different Chaya restaurants in Los Angeles, each is different from the other. The menus are printed daily to reflect the freshest ingredients and newest creations. In addition to that, the iconic 390-year-old restaurant brand is deeply rooted in Japan. It's not just some Western restaurant that wants to serve Asian food. They serve legitimate Asian fusion food cooked by real Asian chefs. Chaya Downtown Executive Chef Atsushi Kenjo also stopped by the table to chat. Although I was at Chaya Downtown to specifically to try the Anniversary Shared Dinner for Two, I knew I had to deviate from the plan and order the Tuna Tartare. For those that don't know, Tuna Tartare was invented at Chaya more than 30 years ago by Executive Chef Shigefumi Tachibe. The Tuna Tartare is prepared tableside the same way it was done since 1984. The Tuna Tartare is only available during dinner. Did you know that Chef Tachibe’s knife is even displayed in the Smithsonian? It was like a history and foodie experience all in one! Paying homage to that Tuna Tartare Gods! The highlight of dinner was my first course, which was the Miyazaki Wagyu Beef Carpaccio with Moro miso aioli, parmegiano-reggiano, arugula, and seaweed grissini. Wow! Talk about melt in your mouth goodness!Regular carpaccio will never be the same again. Our server, Brendan, also suggested taking apart the pretzel sticks and using it to wrap the Wagyu beef around. How creative! Wrapping it around the pretzel stick gave the carpaccio a great contrast. The pretzel texture and taste went so well with the beef. It was like the crouton to my salad that I needed. The next course I had chosen out of the dinner special was the steamed sake branzino. I love branzino so I was ecstatic to order some. But just then, Executive Chef Atsushi Kenjo came by and suggested we have the Salt Roasted Branzino tonight instead. He said it was an absolute must! Here's a tip: when the Chef tells you to try something, you make like Nike and just do it! The branzino arrived tableside as the Tuna Tartare did, but it was even more extravagant. All the other tables turned around to stare at its beauty. The fish was in encased in a salt case. Brendan, our server, had to dig it out and present it on a plate. The smell in the air was absolutely divine! Here's what the branzino looked like once it was unburied from the salt case!Branzino roasted in salt with herbs and fennel, served with a Yuzu Beurre Blanc sauce. Amazing!It was served with a helping of kale & roasted carrots and potatoes. Dessert was up next! My favorite part of any meal. The Maple Apple Tart Tartin with maple vanilla sauce and vanilla ice cream was so good. I love apple pie so this was right up my alley. I could eat that all day! The next dessert I wasn't so sure of... To be honest, I was quite apprehensive when I saw that Pumpkin Tiramisu was on the menu. I mean was this a case of another company or brand jumping on the pumpkin bandwagon? Especially this season more than ever, every coffee shop or pastry shop is doing pumpkin something. I am happy to report though that this cake was delicious. It was airy and melted in my mouth with each bite. The best part was actually the pumpkin seeds on top that gave each bite an extra crunch! If you're a pumpkin or Tiramisu lover, you need to check this out before it's gone!
Besides from the five-year anniversary $55 Shared Dinner for Two, there is also a special $5 “So-Cal Five” cocktail as well as ten menu items for less than $10 available all night throughout the month of October. Chaya Executive Executive Chef Atsushi Kenjo also has some new items he's introducing to the menu like slow cooked organic egg “Onsen Tamago” with Santa Barbara sea urchin and stuffed squash blossom tempura with yuzu salt, moro miso aioli, goat cheese and short rib. Chaya Downtoan is also extremely romantic and beautiful with its Japanese garden patio and Kaisen bar. Two thumbs way up! Definitely go check them out!
Chaya Downtown is located at 525 S. Flower St. Los Angeles, (213) 236-9577.