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CASSIA. Finally, it’s here.  It opened in Santa Monica, CA last Saturday, June 13 2015 in an art deco building, formally occupied by Verizon.  Since the announcement in 2014 from Josh Loeb and Zoe Natan (Rustic Canyon) to team up with Bryant Ng and his wife Kim, avidfoodies everywhere have been waiting for Cassia’s opening.

With a few sentimental food and decor items carried over from the Spice Kitchen, Cassia experience is very different.  With touches like the birdcages and Kaya toast, it complements the airy light space which includes a small raw bar and a large dining room that extend out to a patio.

Armed with a new wood-fire grill and a tandoori over, Bryant has the tools to spread his wings, experiment and elevate Southeast Asia cuisine with a heavy vietnamese influence.

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For the 2 of us, we had the small seafood platter, which contained a split King Crab Leg,Vietnamese Prawns, 6 Oysters and a smoked salmon dip and a side of bread from Milo and Olive.  Normally, most seafood platters tend to be the same and highly dependent on the quality of seafood obtained.  This was refreshingly different from the Thai basil and homemade hot sauce to the Vietnamese shrimp in chilies, garlic and hot sauce perfectly cooked.  The head on prawn’s body arrived with it’s body de-shelled  and very tender.  With the taste of fresh shrimp infused with the chills, it’s not too spicy with a little bite.

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I love Uni, so ordering the Chino Valley Organic Egg Custard with Sea urchin roe and braised mushroom.  Very similar to the Japanese Chawanmushi but in a larger pot, it’s mushroom broth in this steamed dish had a tasty unami flavor combined with the uni was a very comforting dish for an overcast day in Santa Monica.  It’s a good dish to share, not a must have but a solid dish if you like steamed savory egg custards.

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Getting our hand’s dirty on the Whole Singaporean Crab, it’s price varies, the one we had was around $60.  It’s good to have this dish coming to the westside, unlike Newport Seafood in the SGV, this one has a white pepper gravy wokked with the traditional green onions, on a bed of lettuce.   Being Asian, it would be nice to have a side of small rice to mix with the sauce, but all the rice dishes on the menu were large orders.  It’s good, it’s messy nut shell cracker is included as well as hot towels after, so dig in.

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Under the heading of Clay Over Breads & Spreads, you can hear diners at the restaurant rave that this is the best they every had.  Whether you order the curry, soybean puree, pate or escargot, this is a must.  It’s naan cooked in a tandoori clay oven, and it is worth an extra side order of more naan to go with the spread on the seafood platter of the short ribs sauce

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Overall, solid restaurant with elevated Asian food needed on the westside.  It will be one of our goto places to eat, drink and socialize.  I wish they would  replace the bread from Milo and Olive with the naan they make in house. They will take reservations starting June 23, and looking to open for lunch starting Fall of 2015.

Corkage $25

Website: www.cassiala.com

1314 7th St
Santa Monica, Calif. 90405
310 393 6699
info@cassiala.com

Currently open everyday after 5:30 except Mondays.

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