Santa Monica's Cassia Debuts Lunch Service (and Brings Back a Great L.A. Burger)
The Cassia burger
Are you sometimes haunted by fever dreams about the cheeseburger Bryant Ng served during lunch at his Spice Table in Little Tokyo? Because we probably think about it at least once a week. In fact, we loved it so much we named it "Best Lowbrow Burger" in 2012, which, in a town filled with amazing lowbrow burgers, is a high compliment indeed. In case you need a refresher, here's what our own Besha Rodell had to say about it:
The Spice Table's burger is, in its soul, a fast-food burger — or at least it's modeled on one. Two patties come draped in Kraft American cheese with pickles, lettuce, tomato and mayo. It has nothing to do with those giant "gourmet" burgers that upscale joints like to serve. The fact that Spice Table's burgers are made from ground short rib, the fact that the pickles are made with a curry brine, the fact that the mayo has shallots in it, only serves to make the flavor of this burger more intense. Oh, and the sambal? It's like the spicy icing on a meaty cake. It's totally reminiscent of fast food, thus stoking your childish lust, yet totally upgraded in the ingredients department — which makes a burger we can be proud to call lowbrow.
Do we resurface these memories just to tease you? No, because starting today, Bryant Ng's Southeast Asian brasserie Cassia will be offering weekday lunch, Monday through Friday, from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., and the burger has returned.
Ng's famed burger has been resurrected as the $17 Cassia Burger, which will feature a larger short rib patty than its Spice Table counterpart (which went for $13 in 2013). Otherwise it's the same in terms of toppings — shallot mayo, sambal, curry-pickled cucumbers, lettuce, tomato — although American or cheddar cheese will be a $2 upgrade rather than being included, and the burger will come with fries or salad.
Other new items on Cassia's lunch menu include a Vietnamese-French dip sandwich ($22) on naan-like clay oven bread, made with marinated and smoked prime rib, horseradish-anchovy sauce, a slice of Emmental cheese and a side of pho broth for dipping, as well as a Koda Farms chickpea curry sandwich ($17), made with coconut milk-lemongrass, crispy eggplant, mizuna, alfalfa sprouts, cucumbers, pickled shallots and feta cheese. Ng also will serve a spin on Chinese chicken salad ($16) and cold sesame noodles ($15), the latter made with young soy beans, cucumbers and crushed walnuts. You'll also find a handful of items from the dinner menu, such as the Vietnamese pot-au-feu, available during lunch.
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