It was only 6:30 and already the place was busy. But that’s the way it is at Chaya Venice, renowned for its groovy themed dining adventures. Not only do they do a great bar business, but the food? It’s always a 10.
Currently, they are featuring a month-long “Crustacean Food Fair” and since I’m a sucker for seafood, I’m glad we got here before our favorite booth was occupied.
We settled into the plush leather at the rear of the restaurant, and waited for the feast to begin. We have two servers we prefer, the humorous Jeffrey Weisberg and the delightful Stacy Weber. Both are on top of their game when it comes to menu selections, and we’re delighted every time we get a chance to be served by either of them. Tonight, it was Stacy.
Leave it to Executive Corporate Chef Shigefumi Tachibe to wow us with his selections. His dishes are always a surprise, and tonight was no exception.
The first starter was their Petit Plateau ($55), a monster-sized platter that included a medley of oysters, shrimp, mussels, Maine lobster and spicy tuna tartar. Cool and refreshing, this was a great clean beginning, with the tuna kicking it up a few notches with its spice. I’m awake now!
Next came the “Kari-Kari” Soft Shell Crab ($17) with spicy coconut shrimp, potato puree, and fried onion. We both loved this departure from the predictable soft shell crab at many restaurants, giving this dish a fun island twist.
Paired with the soft shell crab was their Seared Hokkaido Scallop Green Papaya, Mango Salad ($16) with a spicy Jalapeno miso dressing; the papaya and mango tempering the spices in a remarkable way. What’s next?
When it comes to crustaceans, who can bypass Main Lobster ($58)? Ours was blackened, Tobanjan Style. There was a nice sizzle to this one, but for tamer diners, you can order it steamed with lemon butter. I found the blackened version innovative and a unique departure from how I usually enjoy it.
And finally, Squid Ink Paella ($36) with grilled Maine lobster tail, and dense with calamari, shrimp and other delights. I was getting pretty full at this point, and was thankful that I’d be swimming the following morning. What better way to celebrate a seafood extravaganza than by being in the water?
Still, we couldn’t forfeit dessert, and dove into our ice cream sundaes, and the peach cobbler. Rolling our way back to the car, we applauded another fine evening at Chaya Venice, for taking us out of our culinary comfort zone, and providing us with another dining adventure.
For those who are not keen on crustaceans, their regular menu items are also available.