Photo courtesy of Chaya Downtown
Chaya is a restaurant known for its Californian and French twists on traditional Japanese fare. It has a long history: The original concept was based on the restaurant Hikage Chaya, which opened in the 1600s in Kamakura, Japan; a later incarnation, Chaya Brasserie in Beverly Hills, became famous as the birthplace of the dish tuna tartare. Now, the Downtown L.A. and Venice locations are consistently packed, and the menus include plenty of seafood as well as Wagyu beef, kurobuta pork belly, and flat-iron steak. Family-style is the way to go here—trust us, you'll definitely want to try as much of the menu as possible.
By Sarah Purkrabek, AFAR Contributor
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Celebrate Spring With Chaya’s Current Uni Fare Menu
Los Angeles does not have much of a winter, but it still experiences a spring awakening. The windows of its downtown buildings reflect the glow of a later sunset, and the breeze turns warm. On the outdoor patio of Chaya Downtown, surrounding buildings shelter intimate tables from city noise, and green tree branches support strings of light. This pleasant setting, where just enough detail can feel elegant and revitalizing, mirrors the uni-centric menu being served from March 10 – 31. Created by executive chef Shigefumi Tachibe to highlight the slick, golden delicacies found inside sea urchin, this menu features a variety of dishes that blend the ocean air taste of uni with other decadent flavors. Taste the soft uni tofu layered with a wasabi soy paste, discern the varying textures of uni in an abalone risotto, and savor the over-the-top uni and snow crab cake. While each plate strives to show the versatility of its main subject, all have one thing in common: a beautiful presentation. For instance, the live uni with dashi jelly is served on ice in the center of an oversized sea urchin, and its purple spikes are softened with a sprinkling of dainty pink and yellow flowers. Even if you indulge in a couple of signature cocktails – like the blackberry Tokyo mule with yuzu sake – you’ll have a hard time forgetting the thrill of that sight. As L.A. transitions into spring, the uni menu at Chaya Downtown follows suit with a fresh take on a dinnertime meal.
By Kelly Dawson
Dine Downtown at Chaya
Much like a visit to the ocean, a seat at Chaya Downtown is a calm escape. Set against a backdrop of towering skyscrapers, the restaurant is nestled in a quiet courtyard that feels removed from the bustle beyond its doors. White tablecloths and a shimmering art deco-inspired bar create a level of upscale intimacy, but the menu invites casual sharing. Begin your meal with a farmers' market cocktail, a concoction that changes every month. Then, try a plate of spicy black mussels in white wine broth. The foie gras steamed bun with unagi and mango chutney and the tuna tartare are also standouts. For your main, excellent fish from Kyushu, Japan, beckons. Try the yellowtail baked with sea salt or the branzino served in the Italian acqua pazza style. Pan-fried brussels sprouts and half a dozen Pacific oysters should round out your feast. Finish with a blackberry Tokyo mule.
By Kelly Dawson
525 S Flower St, Los Angeles, CA 90071, USA
Mon - Fri 11:30am - 2:30pm, 5:30pm - 10pm