Twenty years ago, Euro Asian restaurant Chaya Venice did a series of popular food fairs. The numerous Japanese fairs centered around holidays served as inspiration, but eventually Chaya Venice stopped the food fair events. As loyal TreasureLA readers know, the restaurant has brought back these fairs which feature a single ingredient. August saw a pretty good garlic menu, October was home to an uneven and slightly disappointing Dungeness Crab event, and this month it’s all about Venison.
The venison menu was created by Chaya Executive Corporate Chef Shigefumi Tachibe (credited with inventing tuna tartare) and is available for dinner only one more week, ending on Dec. 11. Tachibe chose to use New Zealand farm-raised venison because he found wild venison to be too gamey.
There are several delicious and popular ways to try unfamiliar meats in LA: sausage, burger, or grilled like a steak. Chaya Venice offers the best two of these three options: burger and grilled.
The Texas Spiced Venison Burger is topped with crispy bacon, pepper jack cheese, arugula, red cabbage, fuji apple & red pepper chutney, and spicy mayo. The full-sized burger costs $22 (we were served a slider version, to save room for the other dishes). I was a fan of the venison sliders, unlike The Savory Hunter, who had to try it without the cheese and bacon. It just goes to show how important adding a little fat can be. I wouldn’t have guessed it was deer – I’m sure I could have convinced 19 out of 20 of my friends that it was buffalo.
The dish that disguises the venison the least is the roasted venison tenderloin with blueberry peppercorn sauce, sauteed organic mushrooms, haricots, and chestnut puree. The venison was beautifully complemented with the rich chestnut puree, and the generous use of peppercorns made me stand up and take notice.
If the $42 price tag is scaring you away from the tenderloin, I’d recommending the pappardelle pasta with Italian-style venison meatballs, marinara sauce, and shaved Parmesan. The unique flavors of the venison were able to shine, and the pasta was nicely executed.
I was not a big fan of the venison chili con carne with chunks of venison steak and lean ground venison kidney, garbanzo and white beans, pepper jack cheese, and grilled country bread. It sounded good on paper, but there were no memorable and distinct flavors.
Although there is plenty to fill you up on the venison menu, don’t forget that you can still order off the regular menu. The shishito peppers are always a good choice to add a little spice and crunch to your meal.
Time’s running out to get your hands on a tasty slice of venison from New Zealand!
110 Navy St.
Venice, CA 90291
Note: The meal was hosted