Chef Haru of Chaya Brasserie Beverly Hills
I was invited to dinner last week to check out the French born Japanese chef’s new menu. Chaya, a restaurant family dynasty started almost 400 years ago in Japan. In Southern California, Chaya has always been known for their blend of Euro-Asian menu and the chef seems to have been born to the role. Chef Haru has created two menus- Le Petite Chaya’s menu is a collection of small plates. Then there’s the prix fixe tasting menus. A three-course ($39) gives a sample of the chef’s genius but I say go for the five-course ($65) to really sample the farmers’ market driven menu.
We started with a few appetizers; the house-cured salmon rillette with wasabi cream, beet salad and pressed hamachi. The salmon rillette was rich and we gobbled the little container down.
Although I love beet salads, I had grown tired of the seemingly boring ones. This one was not boring at all. I loved the tiny balls of goat cheese studded with puffed rice. And the beets seemed to be dressed in a emulsified version of themselves rather than a cloying dressing.
The pressed hamachi was also very interesting. I learned Chef Haru worked on this recipe for years, perfecting it so that the mole wasn’t overpowering and enhanced the flavor of the delicate yellowtail.
While waiting for our entrees, Chef Haru presented us with his chicken noodle soup from the tasting menu that evening. He remarked he was almost sold out but wanted us to try this delicate soup with a remarkably delicate foie gras dumpling. There were no actual chicken and noodles but you could taste the chicken in the rich stock and the dumpling wrapper served as noodles. It was fantastic and I’ll have to think about getting the prix fixe menu the next time I’m in.
I was most intrigued by the scallops pot pie. I love savory pies and thought this was unusual though truth be told, seafood pot pies are probably more common in Europe. I could taste butter in the crust and when I told the chef that, Haru laughed and said that the three ingredients needed for a successful restaurant were: BUTTER, BUTTER and BUTTER. Ah, love.
My dining companions zeroed in on the carbs. The risotto was wonderfully crispy. And I enjoyed the subtle green tea tinged noodles.
For the cocktails, I tried the Bourbon Barron and Tangerine on Fire. The bourbon Barron was a nice way to begin the evening. It had quite the kick. The Tangerine on Fire went very well with the desserts. Light, fruity and paired well with the slightly sweet desserts.
Chef Haru has a twin brother who is also a chef in Paris. Hm, twin hottie chefs…um, I think I need another cocktail. Hiya!
We ordered three desserts including the croissant bread pudding, green tea tiramisu and the budino (butterscotch pudding). The budino came with my favorite warm Chaya cookies. I thought it was the perfect portion. The manager was talking up the new tiramisu which we had to get. But my ultimate favorite was the crispy edged croissant bread pudding. I took French in high school and we had to practice croissant over and over. If the reward to pronounce it correctly was this bread pudding, I think I would have made a better effort! Croissant!
8741 Alden Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90048