Walking around Main Street in Venice I was amazed by how empty the streets were; traffic in cars and on foot was sparse. I wondered where all the people were, was this some night of the comet scenario? Then I walked into Chaya and realized that this is the place where everyone comes when the sun hits the horizon. The bar was packed with locals and I got the impression that this place has a lot of regulars. While I waited for a table I ordered a Juicy Infusion with a strong endorsement from a fellow patron. This drink featured house made pineapple marinated vodka mixed with cranberry and orange juice, the combination made for a dangerously delicious cocktail.
We were seated and I got to look over the tasting menu which offered an exciting range of dishes. First to arrive was the Vietnamese Roll, which offered vibrant, fresh shrimp and crab along with veggies. The mango and cilantro paired well with the seafood.
Tuna tartare came next and kept me impressed. The ahi was high grade and drizzled in sesame oil and chili miso vinaigrette with pine nuts and a quail egg. Served on the side was a pair of thin sesame crackers that were perfect complement to the tuna. I could not get enough of this brilliant appetizer.
From the moment I looked over the menu I was anticipating the lobster enchiladas. When they arrived I paused for a moment with a fork and knife in hand to just take it in visually. The enchiladas were coated in a radiant green cilantro cream sauce. I wondered if the cilantro might over power the lobster, but the spicy herb was much more subtle. I should also point out that the lobster was tender and flavorful. The coupling of the rich lobster and the cilantro was so simple and so smart. I hope this item is a regular on the menu.
I really should be more excited about beet salads as the last few I’ve had were on tasting or prix fixe menus. This salad was full of greens, slow roasted beets, candied walnuts, orange segments and goat cheese. It was almost impossible to get one of each ingredient on my fork, but I found it more enjoyable to mix two at a time until my plate offered no more combinations.
The final serving was a free range chicken with risotto and white wine sauce and wild mushrooms. This was the perfect entrée. The locally raised chicken was tender and succulent and the white wine sauce accented the risotto wonderfully. Saving the best for last, I left the mushrooms as the final morsels to clean my plate with.
Chaya impressed me so that I’ve actually been back before I had time to publish the results of my first visit. Odds are if you go one day this week, you will find me there again.
110 Navy St
Venice, CA 90291