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Chaya Downtown Thrills: review with pics

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I love Chaya. I have loved Chaya since the first time I my husband, then date, took me to the Beverly Hills location for a dinner date back in 1998. The food is delicious, the service is always top notch and the atmosphere is elegant and ever so slightly celebratory. The new downtown location hits all the same marks of excellence.

The bar area is actually an improvement on the crowded and small bar area in Beverly Hills. There is more space at the actual bar, and lots of different seating options in an airier and more open space. This bodes well for happy hour business, of which our bartender said they get plenty.

Above, please view the happy hour options. Lots of tasty looking small plates at low price points. And some tempting looking cocktails.

Monday nights they offer a bento box special. For $35 with one free glass of cold sake I am thinking this is really not that much of a bargain necessarily. It does tempt me a little though. I'd like to try it to see exactly what the chef is offering.

Some lovely cupcakes at the end of the bar. I saw someone add several more a couple different times, but didn't ask what flavor they are. This is a nice dessert option, and they certainly looked beautiful, if a hair thematically incongruous.

D and I started our meal with hama hama oysters on the half shell. Large and very briny, lots of juice.

It's easier to tell from this shot how wet they truly were. Some people really love all the liquid..my favorite part of the middle meaty part. Heavenly.

Vodka martinis on a Friday night. Cold, wet and dry.

For our second course we shared the pan seared Hokkaido scallops. This was hands down the best dish of the night. Given the generous size (these were whole, not half scallops), I could have eaten this as an entree.

Plated over melted leeks, creme frâiche pureed gold Yukon potatoes, a drizzle of olive oil and a truffle sherry vinaigrette, the flavor was bold and rich, but still elegant. I used to have a habit of ordering the same thing every time I visited a restaurant, if I fell in love with it. When Los Feliz restaurant was still in business *wipes away a tear*, we returned time and again for the beautiful steak with balsamic reduction. D would take me out for a special weeknight dinners to Los Feliz in my early years of teaching to make me feel pampered after a long and stressful day. Because of these scallops, Chaya downtown could become just such a habit.

D ordered the sea bass for his main. The Beverly Hills location serves something similar, but not exactly the same. We always order seafood when at Chaya, they have such a special way with so many different varieties.

Downtown Chaya serves their sea bass marinated in white miso with a wasabi soy broth, bok choy, eggplant and a white rice gallette. The Japanese flavors in this dish do a sea bass justice.

I rarely order whole fish unless sharing with someone else, but I was super pleased I ordered this to share only with myself. This is orata, which is a euphemism for sea bream. Personally, its original moniker doesn't bother me, but people are weird. Alert the press.

Roasted Tuscan style stuffed with spinach, tons of fennel and tomato to keep the inside nice and moist. The outside was topped with lots of roast sticky garlic, served with grilled lemon.

The beautiful broccolini was served as part of the orata dish. This dish as a whole was rustically delicious.

I am beyond thrilled that Chaya has placed a branch downtown. Situated next door to Drago Centro at 5th and Flower, it is located well for public transportation and easy to find for taxi'ing. My patronage of Chaya BH waned when we moved this far east. Something tells me they will be getting plenty of my dining money in the upcoming months. Everything about their food and atmosphere makes me happy.

review with pics:http://foodshethought.blogspot.com/20...

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