Cassia, which is opening in a fantastic 1930s-era Art Deco building on the corner of 7th and Arizona in Santa Monica, is just a few more weeks from opening. The interior is mostly completed at this point, though there are some details that need to be finished before the kitchen can start firing up for previews. Bryant Ng and wife Kim Ng, along with Zoe Nathan and Josh Loeb (Rustic Canyon), are helming the operation, which spans five distinct sections in a nearly 200-seat space.
Upon walking in, one will immediately notice the gravity, the immensity of the inside, which has a full bar and a fairly expansive patio. Further in, a low-flung raw bar with easy access to the shellfish and other seafood that'll come churning out of it. Then wide open flat area, a bistro-style setup with some banquettes and tables that'll work for every day dining.
Those who want a more composed experience (though the separation is minimal) can walk over to the "wine room", which has a few more robust seating arrangements that'll work for when the parents are in town. Also, a private dining room that will seat up to 20. Finally, and Spice Table fans will appreciate this, a section that feels like it was plucked right out of the Little Tokyo restaurant (which had its date with the wrecking ball last year).
Bryant and wife Kim have brought over all the great birdcages that lived in the brick-laden Spice Table, plus the weathered hood that sat over the grill. This section contains a large communal dining area, plus a chef's counter whereupon diners can feel the full wrath of the new wood-fired grill.
As for Ng's fare, it'll be very similar to the feel and overall look of Spice Table, with inspirations drawn from across Southeast Asia, but mostly Vietnam. With a menu hovering at close to 38 items, there should be something for everyone, and the entire bill of fare will be available at every seat, which means no table envy.
It's a triumphant return for the Ngs, who sadly had to close their popular restaurant in Downtown. Fans will just have to come a lot more west to have the great fare.