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.
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.
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.