Chaya Downtown is often overshadowed by some of the newer trendier restaurants in DTLA, but it should not be overlooked. If you have not dined at Chaya, you need to add it to your restaurant list. It’s located in City National Plaza on Flower Street between 5th and 6th Streets.
When you arrive, you have your choice of three different dining experiences. The bar/lounge area is filled with the after work crowd. It’s a great place for a cocktail and a quick bite. The Matsuri Beer Garden is a more relaxed outside patio dining experience. We chose to sit in the main dining room. We started with a round of drinks. My husband could not wait to enjoy his Russian Blues ($15). It’s lemon infused vodka and blueberry Red Bull with a few fresh blueberries. I went for the Cucumber Ginger Fizz ($12) made up of Effen Cucumber Vodka, St. Germain, fresh cucumber, lime and ginger. These were refreshing well-crafted cocktails.
The menu is made of up small, medium and large plates, plus a daily Kaisen market menu filled with a great selection of fresh seafood. Now, be sure to take a good look at the menu, and not the daily special menu over the sushi bar. The menu over the sushi bar is just a prop. My husband tried to order the yellowtail, but the waiter explained that you get the entire fish and it would be too much food… and too expensive. It was $40/pound and it was a 6 pound fish. That would have been a $240 fish! Instead he ordered the Whole Maine Lobster Spaghetti ($59). It was incredible, served in a sake-Manila clam broth with broccolini.
I could not decide what to order, so I ordered too much. We started with the Tuna Tartare ($18). You know how some Mexican restaurants make table-side guacamole? Well, at Chaya, they make the Tuna Tartare that way… right at your table. You watch as they mix all the ingredients together creating some of the freshest tasting Tuna Tartare ever.
I went on to order the Roasted Bone Marrow ($18) with wagyu jam, wasabi pickles and grilled bread. Again, it was delicious. This bone marrow dish rivals the marrow served at Bestia, which is the best marrow I have ever tasted! I also ordered the Octopus ($14). It was cooked to perfection and served tender and delicious with tomatoes and potatoes.
We were stuffed, but everyone raves about Chaya’s bread pudding… so bring it on. It’s Warm Milk Chocolate Croissant Bread Pudding ($10) served with vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce. Wow! This might be the best $10 I’ve spent in a long time.
The service at Chaya was perfect. The server was friendly, helpful and there when you needed him. I liked that both managers stopped by to make sure we were enjoying ourselves. If the prices seem a little high for your budget, you can still experience Chaya’s great food and service during lunch or in their beer garden where the prices are a bit lower. Chaya serves lunch Monday through Friday, and dinner Monday through Saturday. The restaurant is closed on Sundays.
Oh, and when you go to Chaya be sure to check out the amazing chandelier in the bar area. It’s truly spectacular, made up of a bunch of odd items, but combined into a beautiful masterpiece.
Chaya Downtown 525 S. Flower Street (in City National Plaza) 213.236.9577 thechaya.com