Cassia — Santa Monica, USA
The world’s great love affair with pan-Asian cuisine began along both sides of the Pacific Rim, so it’s only appropriate that the newly opened Cassia in Los Angeles should fly the flag so proudly. Head chef Bryant Ng, ex The Spice Table, parlays his Singaporean-Chinese culinary chops into a slick, airy 5,000 sq ft brasserie designed by local outfit, Montalba Architects. Set on the ground floor of Santa Monica’s 1937 Art Deco Telephone Building, the high-ceilinged space is framed by tables topped with Italian Calacatta white marble, bleached walnut mid-century furniture and plenty of brushed galvanized steel. Very superficially, the East meets West menu may take its cues from French traditions (and, to a large extent, Cassia’s interior décor), but the flavours are firmly South-East Asian ranging from the classic Singaporean white pepper crab and jellyfish salad paired with shredded chicken and crispy rice with a sesame-bacon dressing to plump escargots baked in lemongrass butter and a jolt of Vietnamese coffee pudding. Meanwhile, post-prandial tipples await at the adjoining bar, which serves up an eclectic mix of sparkling wines from the Canary Islands, small-production Old World wines, handcrafted beers from Pasadena, and an energetic cocktail laced with cassia-infused Cardamaro and apple wood smoke.