Last week, I was invited to a garlic extravaganza dinner at Chaya‘s Venice location. I couldn’t wait to see what was in store; I mean, who doesn’t love garlic? This is Chaya’s 19th garlic festival, and from the looks of it, the best menu to date!
We started off the meal with grilled bread and a bowl of roasted garlic cloves. Once you placed the cloves on the bread, they were completely spreadable and delicious. This was a fun take on a standard bread and butter starter. In addition to the bread, we all got to choose from an array of garlic-themed cocktails. I chose the Devilish Mary and later enjoyed the Bacon Clove. Out of the two, I enjoyed the Bacon Clove a little more. When a cocktail has bacon AND garlic, how could you not love it?
Next, we enjoyed a series of tasting sized dishes that are available all month-long, such as Escargot in a garlic herb lemon butter sauce, chicken gyoza with a garlic ponzu glaze, and spicy garlic seafood tan tan soup with a garlic and miso broth, squid ink noodles, calamari, shrimp, mussels, and clams. The manager had been talking about the soup since we sat down, and I see why! It was definitely my favorite of the small tasters.
Next, we all shared the Wagyu beef with kimchi fried rice and chinese broccoli, and the garlic Dungeness crab with XO sauce and yakisoba. Served family style, we each got a couple of bites before our entrees arrived. The beef was cooked perfectly and one of my favorites of the meal. This was my first time having XO sauce, and I was surprised to learn that it is made from scallops, which is what gave it the rich flavor.
For the entree, we got the 40-clove 16 oz. Grilled Rib-Eye and the Crispy Branzino. Even though I was so full from all of the previous courses, I couldn’t help indulge in this delicious entree. The amount of garlic was not overwhelming, if anything, I will be adding copious amounts of garlic to any future ribeyes I consume. The meat was cooked perfectly and the garlic mashed potatoes were the perfect side. The crispy branzino was served with a delicious mushroom medley and roasted garlic potatoes. The crispy skin on the fish was absolute perfection and a lot lighter than the ribeye.
For dessert, we each received a spiked popsicle infused with garlic, jalapeno tequila, cucumber, watermelon, cantaloupe, lime juice, and Tajin seasoning. It was definitely more of a savory and spicy dessert, but a good and refreshing end to the meal.
I loved everything about this tasting dinner and can’t wait to come back with friends to indulge in the garlic goodness! This will be going on until the end of August, so make time to visit! Also, the garlic cocktails and popsicle are ONLY available on Sundays, so plan accordingly. In addition to the delicious food, the service was impeccable! If you are looking for a fun night out with friends or a creative date idea, this is the perfect themed occasion!
For more information on the garlic fair or Chaya’s other locations, see http://www.thechaya.com/ and http://www.thechaya.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/Garlic-Fair-Menu.pdf.