At 25, Chaya’s time in Los Angeles almost doubles my own. I was unsure whether I’d feel more intimidated by their history or blasÃ© about the menu. Turns out that it was neither of those things. Chef Haru Kishi, who, for the first time, was recruited from outside the Chaya family, brings in a fresh approach. Though yes, the tuna tartar is right there on the menu, overall, it’s a strong departure from what was served before.
It’s a pleasure to meet the chef, who himself personifies the Franco-Japanese Chaya tit for tat. Yes, this is Los Angeles, but I still don’t remember the last time I spoke to an ethnically Japanese man who speaks English with a French accent. His menu, however, has tinges of SouthernÂ influences.Â Vernacular and second languages aside,Â Haru speaks through his food ever elegantly – at least through the La Petite menu, which isÂ the facet of ChayaÂ H.C. and I were privy to on our visit. Not to be confused with the Chef’s Tasting menu or dining section of the restaurant, La Petite is your prerogative to go a la carte.
Our (off-menu) amuse was a sight and concept to behold and opened my eyes to one of the ways almond could be served: Young and green. The overall amuse was delicious and evocative of morning cereal thanks to the charred rice puffs
While I wasn’t crazy about the gravy consistencyÂ in the otherwise mouth-watering Scallop Pot Pie, the Hamachi Mole Pressed Sushi was pretty fantastic. I guess there are some things you can count on Chaya for – variations on that raw fish dish you’re sure to never tire of.
There are still entrees offered on the La Petite menu – and excellent ones from what I could tell.Â Â Our small portioned (for tasting purposes)Â Saffron Pappardelle had that perfect handmade pasta bite with just the right amount of Wagyu Bolognaise sauce.
My favorite cocktail was the Apple Knocker with Laird’s Apple Jack Brandy Blend, apple juice, pomegranate, citrus and bucket. With most of the drinks being vodka, acai and soju based, this was kind of a no-brainer. But the dessert! So good. Again, I am guilty of blogging about an off-menu item but maybe you can get Chef Haru to make a special case for you, as well. It had compressedÂ strawberries enveloped in a fluffy coconut sorbet. But the details really made it a treat, with crunchy chocolate dots, mint and candied orange peel topping the heavenly dessert that made me close my eyes. So hopefully you’ll forgive me for teasing you with this dessert since I implore you to ask for it when you visit Chaya.
The end of it is that you’ll have a solid experience at Chaya.Â The conclusion of my visit was that it’sÂ no accident that they’ve been around for such a long time. It seems that Chef Harutaka has successfullyÂ ushered in a new vision and diners everywhere (not just Cedars Sinai employees) have goodÂ reason to see what he’s up to.
All food and cocktails were hosted.