CHAYA is Full of Delightful Surprises

IMG_5511My daughter came home from college for the weekend and craved sushi for dinner. We came up with a list of restaurants in Los Angeles to take her on a Saturday night. Since she has never been to Chaya downtown, we made a reservation.

As I walked up to the hostess stand, I admired the colorful chandelier. From a distance, it looks like an elegant glass light fixture, however up close, I was surprised when I noticed it’s made from plastic toys and everyday items.

The dining room manager Mike Javaherpour noticed my facial expression as I pointed to a plastic hairbrush, scissors, hair clips, sunglasses, medicine bottles and a champagne glass hanging upside down.

“The designer found many of the items and asked his friends to contribute to this work of art,” he said.

The artist, Stuart Haygarth, is a Berlin based artist and lighting designer who works with everyday objects to create beautiful art pieces.IMG_5504

Chaya is an elegant restaurant filled with many surprises. Hints of Asian décor fill the smaller 12-seat sushi bar with two sushi chefs working in full view. There are a few Japanese themed art pieces, yet the bar area offers an art-deco flair with its elegant etched mirrors. The polished concrete floor and white linen tables give the room an elegant European feel.

Chaya is one of the few Japanese restaurants I know of that serves crusty French bread with butter and a dish of olive oil. We nibbled on the bread as we ordered an Acai mojito and a nice glass of white Argentina wine.

Executive Chefs Atsushi Kenjo and Shigfumi Tachibe have created a menu highlighting fresh farmers market ingredients with persimmons enhancing many dishes for the Fall and winter months.

We ordered the six-item bento box served in a traditional red and black lacquered case. The first area had a salad of roasted organic beets with persimmon, hoshi-gaki goat cheese and aged sherry vinaigrette. Next to the salad was a Korean style surf n’ turf tartare. Maine lobster and Wagyu tri tip were blended with a spicy Yukhoe bean paste, scallions, julienne apple, cucumber, and a quail egg. Chopped finely, it was served with crispy wonton crisps.

IMG_5515There were three pieces of sushi and a sashimi piece along with a serving of pan roasted wild Canadian King salmon with Belgian lentils, sweet chestnuts, chanterelle mushrooms, leeks, wilted kale with bacon. We opted for a second serving of salmon, rather than the lamb chops that come in the box.

My daughter ordered a  sushi platter with a variety of rolls consisting of a spicy tuna with eel and avocado and two sushi pieces each of tuna, salmon, shrimp, albacore and yellowtail. The dish thoroughly satisfied her craving.

I had a taste of both the box and platter before settling into my caramelized onion and mushroom soup with crispy croutons.

On Sundays they serve a four-course tasting dinner for $27 and 50 percent off wine bottles.

During the afternoon they offer a mid-afternoon sushi special from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. where many of their rolls are under $10. Before 6:30 p.m. the restaurant is filled with patrons enjoying a four-item pre-theatre bento box for $29. It’s only available on Tuesdays through Saturdays from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. If you arrive after 6:30 p.m. you can still take advantage of the all night long six-item Bento redux box for $39. This is offered from Monday through Saturday.

Valet and self-parking available at the City National Bank Plaza underground parking garage- LEVEL A.

Complimentary shuttle service is available to the Staples Center, Nokia Theater, and Music Center. $$-$$$ 525 S Flower St, (213)236-9577.

This article was published in the Beverly Press on 11/28/13


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