This month, Patric Kuh reviews Cassia, the triumphant return of Spice Table's Bryant and Kim Ng. The expansive Santa Monica space already received glowing reviews by Besha Rodell and Jonathan Gold, and the LA Mag critic's take isn't any different. Here the cuisine "brings together a wider swath of Asia" than did Spice Table, but "weav[es] a Gallic thread through it," creating what is being called a French-Vietnamese brasserie.
The marriage of flavors and techniques "may sound complicated, but in Ng's hands it isn't," especially when executed in partnership with the Rustic Canyon duo Josh Loeb and Zoe Nathan:
A salad of spry purslane leaves and spiced candied walnuts gains brightness from ribbons of green papaya. Ng takes broccoli and, instead of wok frying, grills it for a more concentrated herbal punch. Picking up the brasserie theme, he serves short rib pot-au-feu in a slurpable pho broth made from brisket and oxtail. Redolent of star anise and coriander, it's perfect for dunking the singed wedges of Nathan's country bread, which have been slathered with green bird's eye chile sauce. One of our city's most inspired pastry chefs, Nathan—teaming up here, as ever, with Laurel Almerinda—dials back her flair for homey warmth enough to craft naan-like flatbread for savory treats and desserts such as Vietnamese coffee pudding, a feathery mousse with condensed milk and whipped cream with a fillip of tangy crème frâiche. [LAM]
Ultimately, Kuh concludes, "Is it good? Absolutely, and that seems to be the primary question Ng is concerned about." Cassia walks away with three stars.
The Elsewhere: TimeOut laments the service charge but digs the sausages at Bierbeisl Imbiss, kevinEats heads to Venice to check out Dudley Market's seasonal dishes, and Angela Matano runs down the best tacos on the Westside for LA Weekly.