Beer Garden. The words alone summon up thoughts of summer.
Recently, we were invited to check out a Japanese Beer Garden that’s just ripe for summer celebrations — Los Angeles’ CHAYA Downtown.
The lure of the invitation: Executive Chef Joji Inoue launches “Chaya 2.0.” Well, who wouldn’t want to find out what that’s all about!
We’ll admit, the first thing that caught our eye was the found object chandelier in the entryway. We wanted to mosey up to the bar and do a version of I Spy for a bit, but there other delightful distractions tugging at us. Including…
The Kaisen Seafood Bar. This is just a small portion of the seafood bar’s abundant offerings.
What’s on ice? Local and Japanese ingredients from the famed Tsukiji Fish Market and Kyushu Prefecture. Among them: uni in the shell, fresh squid, lobsters and oysters.
We’re not sure what that long-nosed fish on ice is above. What we do know — we’d rather not have an encounter with one whilst snorkeling.
Also new to CHAYA 2.0 are new menu items including Foie Gras with Unagi Bao topped with port wine jus, and Spicy Miso Bouillabaisse with blue crab, mussels, coconut milk and lemongrass.
Are you more of a traditionalist? The Battera “Box Style” Sushi, a unique take on nigri sushi style/Osaka-style box sushi.
Also part of CHAYA 2.0 is a Whole Fish Program. Above, Chef Joji was displaying his mad knife skills. He’s not called the “Seafood Samurai” for nothing!
Also making the rounds on the Whole Fish front — tableside filet service.
But what about the beer garden, you ask? Ah, yes. That was just outside on the terrace.
Cooking up at a groovy little kiosk was yakitori hot and sizzling from the Japanese kushiyaki grill. These delicious meat skewers are the ideal accompaniment to a cold brew.
When to grab some suds? From now through September 4, when CHAYA Downtown’s annual Japanese Beer Garden will be in full swing for its fourth year.
How we’re going to toast summer nights at CHAYA Downtown? With the apropos boozy popsicles served in prosecco.
Our proclamation: Bring on the popsicles! Bring on the beer garden! Bring on summer!
For more information about CHAYA Downtown visit http://www.thechaya.com/.