Jonathan Gold returns this week to pen a review on Bryant and Kim Ng's big deal opening Cassia. The Spice Table vets' expansive Santa Monica space run in partnership with Zoe Nathan and Josh Loeb demonstrates Ng's French-Vietnamese influence with a great deal of success. Gold fixates on the pot-au-feu, "a statement of purpose written in carrots, broth and beef," that "is brilliant and soothing, the crossover successful: Ng, trained at the Cordon Bleu in Paris, is claiming the essence of French cooking as his own; colonizing the colonizers."
While the LA Times critic finds serious fault with the overcooked black cod in a clay pot and gummy fried charcuterie rice, the high-profile opening soars with its Vietnamese charcuterie plate, white pepper crab, and exceptional flatbread:
Maybe the best thing you can eat at Cassia is the flatbread, somewhere between Indian naan and the crisp pizza Ng used to make at Pizzeria Mozza, served with a little crock of chopped snails zapped with garlic and lemongrass and strewn with more herbs, a dish that seems to encapsulate L.A.'s culinary moment, the erasure of boundaries between expense-account dining and street food, pretty well. (You can also get the flatbreads with pâté or curried chickpeas if snails aren't your bag.) [LAT]