It’s brasserie fare with Southeast Asian soul at Cassia. And it’s good. (Seriously good). But that will come as no surprise to anyone who’s been to Rustic Canyon or dined at The Spice Table – those are the culinary creds of power couples Bryant and Kim Ng and Josh Loeb and Zoe Nathan. Cassia is the result of their collaboration and it’s captured the hearts and stomachs of diners in the LA area.
It’s a celebration of heritage, flavour, and Bryant Ng’s serious skill in the kitchen, not to mention over an open flame; you might spy the wood grill from behind the bar counter, or at least catch the telltale waft of woodsmoke on the air. The entire space is housed on the ground floor of Santa Monica’s 1930s Art Deco Landmark, the Telephone Building. While it’s not Art Deco on the inside, it is beautifully decorated with polished concrete, white tiles, marbled countertops, mid-century furniture and galvanised steel stools. And at 5,000-square-feet, even with Cassia’s continuing and deserved popularity, you can usually find a seat. And thank goodness for that.
There are plenty of brasserie classics on the menu here, but given a kick of Southeast Asian spice. Raw oysters are spiked with a lime and black pepper mignonette and a dollop of sambal cocktail sauce. Prawns “sunbathe” in a fiery Vietnamese hot sauce. And pork is slathered salty and thick on grilled bread alongside Singaporean candied bacon on the charcuterie platter.
The aforementioned pot au feu is a thing of beauty, by the way; inspired by Vietnamese cuisine, it’s made with Creekstone Farms’ short ribs, braised with the usual vegetable suspects, as well as bone marrow to give it real depth. The whole thing is served with a grilled bread, pickled shallots, a shock of bird’s eye chili sauce and walnut mustard. To say it must be tried to be believed is the truth. But those are just a few of the tantalising options, both sweet and savoury here, that are sure to tempt. So do yourself a favour and come to Cassia hungry.