Story of CHAYA

Our family opened Chaya’s mother restaurant, Hikage Chaya in the early 1600s, as a teahouse along a mountain pass near the harbor city of Kamakura, Japan. The combination of fine fish and spices passing through the port and the preponderance of weary travelers quietly made Chaya into a somewhat famous destination unto itself. When the Imperial Summer Villa was completed in 1893, just minutes away in Hayama, our restaurant had truly arrived. Chaya became a Ryokan and established itself as a gathering place for the royal court, government officials, and for those who sought a summer audience with the emperor.

After endearing ourselves to the imperial kitchen more than one hundred years ago, Chaya quickly evolved into the modern era. In the 1970s Hikage Chaya was a landmark destination for weddings and formal events. As Japan turned its attention outwards in the 1980s, we opened La Marée de Chaya in a pioneering step towards fusion cuisine.

Consecutively we landed in Los Angeles, opening La Petite Chaya in Silver Lake and Chaya Brasserie in Beverly Hills. Our marriage of French and Japanese traditions blossomed in the west. One night in 1984 at Chaya Brasserie, the iconic dish Tuna Tartare was born, and throughout the 1990s the restaurants became beloved haunts of actors and artists.

In 2006 we opened M Café on Melrose Avenue: a casual concept serving contemporary macrobiotic meals, anticipating the ongoing craze for simple, nourishing food.

Today we invite you to rediscover Chaya as we open dining rooms for a new century of tradition, food, and health.

 

Our Chefs

Yuichi Natori:
Venice Executive Chef 

Chef Natori worked side by side with CHAYA’s founding chef Shigefumi Tachibe for 25 years, after posts at Bistro Zephyr, Nanbutei, and Kihachi, where he apprenticed to master sushi chef Masao Suzuki. His rare expertise has produced iconic fusion dishes like Miso-Marinated Sea Bass, Soy-Glazed Black God, and Tandoori-Spiced New Zealand Lamb Chops.

Joji Inoue:
Downtown Executive Chef

Chef Inoue continues CHAYA founding Chef Shigefumi Tachibe’s legacy as a pioneer in Franco-Japanese cuisine. He has also introduced a Japanese fish market program to the restaurant, with a renovated Kaisen raw bar and tableside whole fish presentations. Driven by the notion that cooking has no boundaries, he cites Kumagai Kihachi and Masao Suzuki as his mentors.

Yuko Kajino:
San Francisco
Executive Chef

Chef Kajino has worked with CHAYA for more than 15 years. His introduction to professional life in food began at La Maree de Chaya in Hayama, Japan, in 1998. After two years, he relocated to San Francisco, where for over nine years he worked his way to Chef de Cuisine at Chaya Brasserie before accepting his current post.