In addition to the Wagyu Tasting Menu at all Chaya locations, Chaya Downtown recently started an “Uki Uki Sundays” menu–uki uki meaning to be happy and excited in Japanese. The menu is broken down into three sections, $5 for small plates, $10 for medium-sized items, and $25 for large sharable dishes.
I recently got to sample a selection of items at a media tasting. From the $5 menu, I tried and enjoyed the Chicken Liver Toast with yuzu jelly and the Chicken Wings Laraage–unfortunately, I didn’t get any shots of those dishes. I also tried two cocktails, the Blackberry Tokyo Mule and the Cucumber Ginger Fizz, both featuring ginger, one of my favorite ingredients in cocktails, and in food!
From the $10 menu, I sampled the Barbequed Baby Back Ribs, the Arare Calamari, and the Tarako Spaghetti. The ribs were a bit sweet but very tender. The calamari was very light; I really liked the crispy rice cracker “breading” that was used. I loved the pasta with the sharp, briny sting of the salted tarako roe, and the spaghetti was cooked just al dente.
From the $25 menu, the table shared a Whole Branzino Acqua Pazza, which is an Italian preparation, where the fish is served in a stew with other seafood. We also tried the Six-Hour Braised Australian Wagyu Pappardelle. Again, as with the spaghetti, Chaya did a lovely job with the pasta. Seems almost a shame to braise wagyu for six hours, but it was undeniably delicious in the sauce.
The Chaya restaurants have been around for a long time, but the great thing about them is that each maintains its own identity. Chef Joji Inoue, who started with Chaya Downtown last summer, is putting his own stamp on that location with this Uki Uki menu, which will be running indefinitely on Sundays but only at Chaya Downtown. Check it out!