525 S Flower St
Los Angeles, CA 90071
Press Release: As of Monday, March 22 through the end of summer, CHAYA Downtown will unveil a new weekly Japanese Beer Garden menu on the restaurant’s heated outdoor patio. Offered exclusively on Monday evenings at the downtown L.A. location, diners will be able to order off Executive Chef Shigefumi Tachibe’s special menu featuring a variety of Yakitori Skewers ($2 each or 3 for $5) including Chicken, Beef Tongue, Short Rib, Shrimp, or Shiitake, grilled to order on Hibachi grills set up on the outdoor patio; Sake-steamed Mussels ($8); Grilled Corn with Feta Cheese ($5); Chicken Spring Roll ($5); Albacore Tuna Poke ($7); as well as pitchers of Kirin Beer ($15). Accommodating up to 50 guests, the outdoor patio will be festively decorated with traditional red Japanese lanterns.
I was sold as soon as I saw the menu. Design win.
Monday April 5, Chaya invited in a slew of local bloggers for a drop-in evening of sampling yakitori and drinking beer under the heat-lamps of their new Japanese beer garden. D and I ran into Tony from Sinosoul and his awesome wife H, nommed on some meats and watched Duke bring home the championship.
I like that the yakitori ordering sheets remind me of karaoke sheets. Maybe they are really supposed to be like a sushi bar write-in menu, but in my mind I am sticking with the karaoke reference for my own amusement.
Hands down the best tasting item on the menu was the albacore poke. Best poke I have eaten since landing on continental soil after last fall's trip to Hawaii. Generous amounts of wonderfully fresh albacore, three types of nori, cucumbers, and a very classic seasoning. Since returning from the fall poke-quest in Honolulu, I have been ordering poke from any menu listing poke that comes across my path. This one is the sublime best I have had.
Below, complimentary yakitori skewers. (These will set you back $2 a pop.)
Shiitake mushrooms, grileld dry. Very nice.
Chicken with a not-too-sweet teriyaki. H found hers a little, mine must have been more well marinated or cooked more briefly because they were perfectly moist. Moist.
Shrimps. I loved the savory mixture on top. The shrimp were small but cooked nicely, not dry or chewy.
My favorite skewer, beef tongue. At Totoraku a couple weeks back I discovered my love for beef tongue. Both preparations of tongue at Totoraku were sliced very thinly, while Tachibe-san's were cubed. Incredibly succulent.
It says on the menu simply beef, but the press release announces short ribs. Texturally and flavor wise, these sang short rib to me. Delicious.
At first thought, $2 is a lot for one skewer. However, D mentioned "What wouldn't you pay $2 for?", which is true. But also, thinking about the portion ounce wise of high quality protein you are getting on the plate for $10, this is pretty price efficient.Order a side salad and/or some veg and you've got dinner. Didn't hurt that the patio is gorgeous, well heated for now, but cannot wait to spend a blamy evening the Chaya's new outdoor lounge.
Disclosure: Yakitori skewers were freebies, and we spent plenty of our hadr earned cash on cocktails and a slew of other menu items.