Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Feeling Happy in Venice: Chaya Venice Happy Hour

I really like Chaya Venice's menu during their regular hours, and have been wanting to check out their 5-7pm sushi happy hour menu--when both their prices and wait for a table are significantly reduced--for a while.

A couple weeks ago, after working up an appetite biking around the Venice canals, my friend Andrew suggested to bike north to Chaya Venice. While not stuffy, the restaurant and bar--located on the Venice/S.M. border of Main Street & Navy--is definitely more Santa Monica stylie than Venice boho, but happy hour inherently has a level of casualness about it and we felt totally comfortable bursting into the restaurant at 6:55pm dressed in our casual hoodies and shorts. We got lucky with two seats at the sushi bar with 4 more happy hour minutes to take advantage of.

The happy hour menu is concise (a dozen roll and appetizer options) and super-cheap (nothing is over $4). We ordered spicy tuna tartar, edamame, albacore sashimi salad, chef's special roll (salmon and asparagus inside-out roll, which was ok but would have been better if it was raw salmon instead of baked) and Andrew recommended the potato leek miso soup. I wouldn't have normally picked out the soup from the menu, but it ended up being my surprise favorite. Filled with chunky starchy japanese potatoes and leeks, the flavorful soup was both hearty and refreshing. And the spicy tuna tartar was also tasty enough (enough kick, not too mayonaise-y) to warrant another order.

(Both dishes are way more appetizing-looking than how I captured them with my poor camera skills)

Our entire meal plus a bottle of hot sake ($12) cost $36 inc. tip for the both of us (...that's maybe the cost of one appetizer and one main during regular hours.) Happy Hour indeed! The only complaint is that it could be an even happier hour if Chaya Venice also included drink specials to go along with the discounted sushi.

Cheap high quality sushi--needless to say, I'm hooked. My only problem is finding other non-office minded friends to enjoy happy hour with at a time when you'd still normally be just leaving work....enter my felllow freelancer friend, Carrie. Although we've each managed to fit in a multi-week overseas vacation with some extra carefree weeks at home to spare, we still fear that constant tick of the office clock lifestyle looming closer, so our current plan is to take advantage of early happy hours while we still can.

We each got a raspberry mojito ($9) while we waited for a seat. We got pretty much the same as what I ordered with Andrew, minus the chef special and plus the spicy tuna rolls and I also introduced her to the potato-leek soup (which also pleasantly surprised her).

While there aren't happy hour dessert specials, their Banana, Banana, Banana ($9) is worth ordering regardless. Consisting of three different forms of sweet banana (chocolate-dipped frozen banana sitting on homemade banana ice-cream with fresh berries on top of a warmed banana tart), the dessert really is three times the pleasure without crossing over to banana overload.


This time, our non-HH additions (raspberry-mojito's and triple banana sensation) added happiness to our happy hour at a still very reasonable $60. Mmm, so much good eatin' to be had before 7pm!

Chaya Venice
110 Navy St, Venice
310/396-1179
Happy Hour: Everyday 5-7PM
www.thechaya.com

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