Cassia

1314 Seventh St.
Santa Monica, CA 90401
310-393-6699
Best Of
Cassia +

Anne Fishbein Charcuterie platter

Details

  • Sun.-Thu., 5-10 p.m.; Fri.-Sat., 5-11 p.m.
The excellence of Cassia kind of sneaks up on you. The collaboration between Zoe Nathan, Josh Loeb and Bryant and Kim Ng may look and feel like just another trendy restaurant, and certainly there is a sense of taking all that’s fun about big, fashionable places and pouring those elements on thickly. But Cassia delivers so much more in the substance of the cuisine, so much more heart and flavor and ingenuity. Chef Bryant Ng has brought some of the sensibility that made his now-departed Spice Table such a favorite, but the context is slightly different. Here, he’s riffing on the interplay between French and Vietnamese cuisines, both the influences that are born of the historical French occupation of Vietnam and crossovers born of Ng’s imagination. Cassia is part grand brasserie and part modern Asian eating house. You can order a chilled seafood platter in various sizes, but rather than the tower of chilled crustacean bits that’s customary, you get a sampling of Ng’s cooked and raw cold seafood creations: a bowl of large prawns bathed in an aromatic Vietnamese hot sauce; smoked salmon dip topped with fresh salmon roe and served with grilled country bread; hunks of raw scallop in chile oil with tiny bits of ham and corn and gobs of fresh herbs; long spindly king crab legs cut lengthwise so the sweet meat is easy to access, topped with a lemongrass fish sauce and a flurry of shiso leaves. Other French/Vietnamese mashups, such as the pho-influenced pot-au-feu, are striking in their cleverness but also in just how well they sum up the aim of this restaurant: an elegant ode to what both Europe and Asia have taught us about deliciousness. —Besha Rodell
Read our full review.

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