9/16/2013

Chaya Brasserie

Happy Hour: 5-10pm Daily










The Place
Chaya Brasserie is part of the Chaya restaurant group serving "Franco-Japanese" faire with locations in Beverly Hills, Venice, and Downtown LA. This review is for the Beverly Hills Location. 

Their happy hour is all night, every night starting at 5pm. The hefty menu features seven specialty cocktails for $7, selections of four types of wine for $7 and Kirin and Bud for $5. They offer a menu's worth of food options, from Sushi ($6-16) to appetizer-sized bites ($5-12) to more entree-sized plates ($9-13). 

Ambiance
Chaya Brasserie seems very unassuming at first, tucked away in a freestanding building off of Robertson near Cedars-Sinai. Inside you find an intimate space with bamboo growing in the middle. The low lighting and upscale decor means that if you bring your significant other here, it could probably count as a date.  

The Happy Hour menu is served at the bar, high top tables and lounge seating around the bar, and at the patio outside. The bar has a stone surface instead of the usual wood. The bar area was partially crowded, but not hard to find a seat at during happy hour. The other patrons were mostly older, professional types stopping by after work.


Drinks
Chaya Brasserie offers a variety of drink options, including cocktails with vodka, rum, tequila and sake bases, most of which have some sort of fruit twist or infusion. The Japanese influence is alive and well with sake, lychee, mango and pineapple drinks. The French influence is harder to find outside the sparkling and rose wines from France--not that I minded, a kir can only be done so many ways. I tried the following:

Spicy Margarita - Extremely spicy. The notes of prickly pear are a nice mix, but avoid if you dislike the jalapeƱo kick. Black lava salt rim a nice touch.

Mango Impossible - A forgiving martini that is both sweet and tart with a smooth consistency. The mango flavor is not overwhelming; it won't ruin the drink if it isn't your favorite fruit. 

Sweet Lychee - Tasted a bit more alcoholic than the mango, almost like a wine from the lychee. Not as sweet as the mango (or as the name would suggest). 

Overall the drinks were well mixed and of decent size, making them not terribly overpriced at $7. They were also fairly strong for their size, all 4 out of 5 on the scale of drink strength.

Mango Impossible, Spicy Margarita, and Sweet Lychee

Food
Chicken Karaage
The food offerings on the Happy Hour menu could easily fill out a normal menu. They offer a variety of sushi, appetizers and smaller entree-sized plates. The spicy tuna roll and the crunchy shrimp roll were very high quality with a standard portion size--a good value for a happy hour menu at an upscale restaurant. 

I also tried the Chicken Karaage Bites, which were basically large chicken nuggets. They were fantastic: well seasoned and you got quite a lot for your $8. They tasted especially good dipped in the soy sauce that came with the sushi. 

Probably one of the best parts about the food menu is that you can bring someone here who loves Asian food and someone who hates Asian food and they can both leave happy. Also, this is probably the only happy hour menu in town with both escargot, sushi and sliders on it.

Spicy Tuna Roll and Crunchy Shrimp Roll

Service
The service at Chaya Brasserie was good. The bartender was very prompt and knowledgable about the menu items, and it felt as if we were getting an upscale dining experience despite it being at the bar. 

Verdict
Chaya Brasserie happy hour's strength is a full menu with variety ranging from sushi and escargot to entrees of chicken breast, mussels and lobster and shrimp ravioli. Despite their many offerings, the quality of the food does not suffer. With many items over $10, the prices are high, but there is value for the amount and quality of food you get. This is one of the few upscale restaurants in town that you could have a full meal off of their happy hour menu. It's a great place to bring a date, as long as there is no risk of you coming off cheap treating them to a happy hour menu. 

Potential or Actual Kitschy Name for their Happy Hour:  Le Petite Menu
Menu

The Details: 
Happy Hour: 5-10pm Daily
Drinks: Cocktails $7, Wine $7, Beer $5
Food: Japanese/French/American, $5-13
Parking: Your best bet is to try to snag a metered spot on Robertson off of Arden.
www.thechaya.com


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