Chaya has two restaurants in Los Angeles and one in San Francisco which all serve wonderful Asian fusion cuisine in unique decor.

Chaya Venice is the restaurant I frequent the most because they offer a wonderful sushi bar in addition to their main restaurant (they also offer their sushi selections at the tables if you prefer that to sitting at the sushi bar). If you go early enough they even have a sushi bar happy hour with their rolls at half price. I prefer the seats by the window simply because in this bare floor restaurant the noise level is lower away from the center and you can actually hear your dinner companions when they talk. The food is the epitome of what other chefs aspire to in Asian fusion. The marriage of Asian spices with Californian fresh ingredients and French techniques is perfectly balanced here. My preferred entree is the grilled sea bass done with a ginger and miso sauce, served with fresh leafy vegetables; their sushi bar carries the elusive Spanish mackerel, and their selection of scotches and sakes can make you take a taxi home if you don’t watch your intake (be smart and take a taxi here so you don’t have to leave your car). If you are in the mood before or after your dinner to talk a walk, Venice Beach is only two blocks away, but if night has fallen, you are safer walking along Main Street, where you have well lit streets to safely window shop (most of the stores close at nightfall).

Chaya Brasserie, near the original Ivy, is a great place to go after a day of shopping on trendy Robertson. This location offers live music and a wonderful wine selection with an eclectic menu of daily specials and familiar favorites. The decor feels very South Pacific / Southeast Asian with giant electric fans overhead and a wooden floor. The menu astounds with the flavors that combine in imaginative and unique ways, like the short ribs braised in a lavender infused reduction or the vegetarian mixed vegetables with tofu that has been marinated to give it dimension and a kick. The wine selection here is superb, so ask for your waiter to suggest the best accompaniment to your meal if you don’t have a preference; you won’t be disappointed.

On my next trip to San Francisco I will try the Chaya there; it’s always nice to have something to look forward to, especially when you are familiar with the concept and love it.