By Liz Laing
CHAYA Venice, which celebrated its 20-year anniversary last year, is offering a special Dungeness crab menu for two weeks, through November 6. Chef Tachibe’s imaginative menu effortlessly combines Euro-Asian flavors and fresh market produce with this popular crustacean delicacy.
Starters include a Crab Tamale with Crab veloute, shishito peppers and pesto and a Crab Bisque “Hot Pot”, in a creamy crab stock with shitake and white mushrooms, celery root and curry powder. An organic, vegan equivalent is also offered with Kabocha squash, sweet corn, celery and potatoes in a vegetable stock. Both soups are topped with a light and flakey puff pastry.
FIngerling Potato Tower
The Fingerling Potato Tower with crab salad and Aji Amarillo (Peruvian chile pepper) aioli is served cold and has a nice, spicy kick to it. The crab salad sits atop a slice of cucumber and the entire creation is artfully presented with droplets of basil oil surrounding it on the plate.
Crab Asian Crepe
A marrying of French and Thai cuisine is found in the Crab Asian Crepe with Thai Red Curry and Micro Cilantro. The Dungeness crab is blended with jalapenos and onion, while the sauce has all the right notes and is surprisingly subtle.
Crab Risotto and Short Rib
One entrée featuring the Dungeness crab is the Crab and Asparagus Risotto with Pinot Noir Braised Short Rib. The crab risotto is made with nine different kinds of grains of Japanese rice. A slightly sweet and tangy sauce generously coats the tender meat which falls apart with a fork.
Another delicious entrée is the warm and comforting Buffalo Ricotta Gnocchi with Crab Pumpkin, Coconut Milk, Lemon Grass and Sautéed Spinach. The rich yellow sauce is visually appealing and complements the dish without overpowering it.
Other options during Crab Week
The regular dinner menu at CHAYA Venice is also available during this time, including vegan dishes. Chef Tachibe receives high marks for his grilled organic tempeh, sitting on a bed of sautéed kale, sweet potato and curried coconut lentils. This hearty and well-balanced dish is topped with grilled onion rings and surrounded by a tangy orange-citrus sauce.
Shigefumi Tachibe – Corporate Executive Chef
Shigefumi Tachibe began his formal culinary training at the age of 15 in Nagasaki, Japan, and was schooled in formal French technique. Six years later he moved to Italy and worked as a chef in Milan to further expand his interest in European cooking.
When he returned to Japan, Tachibe used the culinary skills he learned abroad and became the executive chef of La Marée de Chaya in Hayama, owned by the legendary Tsunoda family. There, he applied his technique to Japanese cuisine to create the kind of fusion cuisine that would eventually change the culinary landscape in America.
In 1981, Chef Tachibe was appointed to run the kitchen at La Petite Chaya in Los Angeles (the first CHAYA in the United States). After the success of La Petite Chaya, the restaurant group expanded in California, opening Chaya locations in Beverly Hills, Venice, downtown LA and San Francisco.
Chef Tachibe’s innovative blend of Japanese and French cooking techniques has become the hallmark of dining at CHAYA. The Dungeness crab season is coming to an end, “which is when the crab tastes best,” according to Tachibe. Go and sample these special seasonal dishes while they last (available for dinner only).
110 Navy Street
Venice, CA 90291
It’s hard to believe that the refined dishes being served at CHAYA Venice can be traced back to such humble beginnings, nearly 400 years ago. In 1619, the Tsunoda family set up a tea “shop” under a shady tree in Hayama, Japan, offering tea and sweets to weary travelers. They eventually expanded into French bistros and pastry shops throughout Japan and have since evolved into one of the most highly-respected culinary establishments, serving imaginative Euro-Asian cuisine in restaurants throughout Japan and California.
Liz Laing is a writer, Web designer and photographer who lives in Los Angeles. Her latest projects may be followed on LizLaing.com.