Spoiler: Have a master Japanese chef prepare it for you.
It's not often that you sit down to eat a poisonous creature. The pufferfish—a.k.a. fugu or 河豚 in Japanese—is one of the deadliest fish out there, thanks to a naturally occurring neurotoxin called tetrodotoxin that it carries. With its toxic bits removed, however, fugu is a delicacy in Japan. Rumors abound that some aficionados keep a little poison intact because it makes the eater's lips tingle when they consume it.
Founded in Los Angeles four decades ago, Chaya’s history actually reaches back to 17th Century Hayama, Japan where their family built Hikage Chaya. At Chaya DTLA, they take a modern izakaya approach to cuisine, sourcing produce from local farmers and seafood from the fishermen of Kyushu. For dessert, their new Sea Urchin Ice Cream Monaka with tamari port wine sauce is the perfect combination of sweet and savory.
Here's your trivia for the day: Chaya’s Japanese-born, French-trained chef Shigefumi Tachibe invented tuna tartare in 1984 (the Smithsonian even recognized this to make it official). The raw fish starter that seems to be on 90 percent of San Francisco menus now. There are still very few versions done better than what you'll find at this 17-year-old Embarcadero Asian fusion classic with avocado chunks and a caper aïoli, which gives a quirky salty punch that's more associated with steak tartare than tuna tartare. That makes sense since Tachibe simply replaced beef with tuna when he created the dish.
The weather has finally turned (well, as much as we can expect it to in Los Angeles), and cocktail menus around town have turned, too. Bartenders are in winter mode, which means more brown liquor, more spicy ingredients, a lot of citrus and apple, and a profusion of egg foams. Take a look at these cocktails and plan your next peacoat-clad barhop.
If you’re looking for a power lunch on the Embarcadero hit up Chaya Brasserie. Not only do they have a great scene the food is yummy. I enjoyed a special lunch Box and it was the perfect size for a quick lunch. I also liked the vibe with a lot of other business men and women meeting and having a lovely lunch.
After 26 Years, the Main Street Restaurant is getting a fresh new look (and Menu). The updated design and decor reflects the history of the family-owned business but with an added contemporary California feel.
Tako tacos at Chaya Brasserie. We just can’t get enough of the genius word play in the name or of the actual octopus dish itself at the always lovely Embarcadero Cali-Asian restaurant with a stellar Bay view.
Again, this one is on the border-line of Santa Monica and Venice but the exciting new revamp and menu changes after 26 years, should keep this Main Street original bar and restaurant on top of mind for locals and travelers to the area. Executive chef Yuichi Natori remains at the helm, with over 25 years at the Chaya Restaurant Group.
After 26 years, the team behind Chaya in Venice have decided to overhaul the place to fit with a more modern aesthetic. Along the way they may have created the Westside's most impressive new dining room for upscale casual Japanese fare, without even really trying.
At CHAYA Downtown, Chef Joji Inoue has put an uni ice cream sandwich on the menu, riffing on the traditional Japanese dessert Monaka, which is made with crisp mochi wafers sandwiching some sort of filling.
At CHAYA, in downtown Los Angeles, freakish-looking outliers from Japan like beltfish and red cornet are served to your table in a medley of ways, from sashimi to tempura.
This fruity slushie is made with fresh mango purée and Kirin Ichiban and topped with frozen beer. The Euro-Asian influences are evident in all things Chaya, and this location, with an outdoor beer garden, focuses on Japanese beer, whisky and shochu cocktails.
For a different take on fresh seafood, Chaya Brasserie combines Japanese and French techniques. On the menu you'll find sushi rolls at home with soy-glazed black cod and king salmon made with goat cheese and pine nuts. The dining room itself is refined, but unstuffy, with white tablecloths and warm Japanese-inspired wood panels.