Already on all the top lists, this sensational restaurant in Santa Monica unleashes exotic flavors in an elegant ambiance. Check out the hit spot…
For a while now, Santa Monica has become the “foodie” city, welcoming a host of critically acclaimed restaurants that have carved a spot on venerated lists. Getting a reservation at some of these places is considerably hard and the new kid on the block is no exception. At Cassia, tucked away from all the bustle of oceanfront shopping and the promenade, you’d better plan ahead. Except in this case, it may be worth your while for more than just bragging rights.
Cassia, named after a type of cinnamon, was launched by Bryant Ng and his wife, Kim (Spice Table) along with Josh Loeb and Zoe Nathan (Rustic Canyon, Milo+Olive). The main dining room is a reasonably large space with high ceilings where, unfortunately, it gets way too loud. We had a reservation, but ended up surrendering this coveted table to move to the more relaxed outdoor patio, strung romantically with lights. Not only is this terrace more suitable for a conversation, but also accepts walk-ins starting 5 P.M. An elegant bar, resplendent with natural light before sunset, is also a great choice for some creative cocktails, one of which is the Banana Mule.
Nothing is more disappointing than when a chef has to dial down the flavors and spice in order to pander to the masses. Thankfully, this is not the case here. The Ngs deliver Southeast Asian cuisine (which incorporates Chinese, Singaporean, Vietnamese and even some Indian) with unapologetic, bold flavors. Fried scallops in corn flakes are crunchy, sweet and savory. The traditional seafood noodle soup, Laksa is made deliciously spicy with a fried paste of chilies and lemongrass and dissolved in a shrimp stock abundant with mussels, fish and rice noodles. Grilled Chicken Wings, which one may overlook because they sound so mundane, are deservedly finger-licking-good with sweet chile sauce. The French brasserie nod comes through not just the atmosphere, but also a heavenly Hanger Steak with peppercorn sauce and shallot butter with fries. And for the vegetarians, there is also a hearty Chickpea Curry cooked in coconut milk and served with Indian, naan-like organic flatbread.
Be sure to leave room for dessert because the Vietnamese Coffee Pudding, served with coconut shortbread, is worth the calories and the punishment when you hit the gym.
1314 7th St. Santa Monica CA. 90401 www.cassiala.com (310) 393-6699