CHAYA Venice, a long-time favorite for its sushi and its French-Japanese fusion cuisine featuring fresh seafood, is going all out for its Dungeness Crab season. The upscale but comfortable Venice haunt is celebrating a 2-week Dungeness Crab Fest through Sunday, November 6.
Chef Shigefumi Tachibe has created a menu that celebrates this Washingtonian crustaceon with their trademark Euro-Asian flavors as well as some Latin flavors from closer to home. The chef is fond of intense flavors reduced to their essence, and not just a little bit of heat. Quite a few of the dishes have a definite kick.
Tuesday The LA Beat was invited to test out a few of the special dishes. The Crab Bisque “Hot Pot” is a dark, dense bisque heavy with the flavors of long-simmered shells and rich cream. The bisque contains a bonus of Shiitake mushrooms and is topped by a puff pastry “hat”, as my mom likes to call them. Another starter not to be missed is the Crab Asian Crepe with Thai Red Curry and Micro Cilantro. I had expected the hearty, eggy pancake that is usually served with toppings in this manner, but the crepe is light and crispy and addictive. It is topped by a generous helping of sweet crab and the gentle kick of curry.
The Crab and Asparagus Risotto with Pinot Noir Braised Short Rib is a simply stunning main dish. The sauce is complex and perfectly complements the tender, fatty meat. The risotto would be a fantastic dish on its own, with crab and asparagus — two of my very favorite ingredients, combined with Japanese rice and a variety of grains. Buffalo Ricotta Gnocchi with Crab Pumpkin, Coconut Milk, Lemon Grass and Sautéed Spinach had a rich sauce bursting with crab and with intensity of Thai flavors.
Crab Fest starters are reasonably priced around $10-$15 and the mains are around $23 and $28. The regular dinner menu will also be available along with the Dungeness Crab Fest special menu, as well as their 5pm-close happy Hour. The fest coincides with the offer of special Autumnal cocktails created by CHAYA Venice’ resident mixologist Ted Thompson.