My 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.
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.
There 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