Friday, July 13, 2007

LA (2of2) 0 to Packed at Chaya Venice

After a day of meeting with a partner company about plans, ideas and what-not, their team offered to take us out to a nice meal at Chaya Venice. In order to assure we got a decent seat, we were told to meet them promptly at 6pm, which seemed to be an obnoxiously early time for dinner, but I'm glad we took their council. Within 25 minutes of our arrival, the place went from pin-drop empty to every table being filled with the vaguely beautiful, but pained set that only southern California can produce.

My friend Eric had suggested/considered Chaya for our dining spot the night before, but it was closed on Monday so it was either an odd coincidence that our business colleagues chose this place or there just aren't many choices in Santa Monica for high-end cuisine. Like Chinois, Chaya Venice aimed for Asian fusion, but with a more Japanese underpinning and a modern aesthetic that added to the vibe and energy of the place.

I started my meal with a fabulous set of seared sea scallops over Thai green papaya salad. The dish was lightly dressed with a delicate ginger garlic vinaigrette that helped to bring out the sweetness of the papaya and the scallops beautifully. I followed the scallop salad with another attempt at paella. My last experience with paella was viciously heavy and unpleasant so I feared ingesting this dish while wearing a shirt that was just on the edge of being too tight for a business dinner. This particular paella was served with half a grilled lobster on top so I couldn't resist giving it a go.

The mix of seafood and rice was superb in every way. The underlying dish was well seasoned to help the sweet meats of the lobster, shrimp and squid to shine, but the portion was reasonable enough to not leave you feeling like a stuffed horse. This is certainly a place to be if you want to dine among the sorta beautiful (but certainly well dressed) people and try to "get" what SoCal is about.

No comments: