Friday, August 8, 2014

August is Garlic Fair at Chaya Venice (with Garlic Cocktails!)

For the 19th year running, Chaya Venice is holding their month-long Garlic Fair with garlic-laden menu and now, even garlic cocktails. They've held several different festivals throughout the restaurant's long history, but the Garlic Fair has proved consistently most popular. As a fellow garlic lover, I can totally see why! The garlic menu is available throughout August and here are what you can expect:

Bagna cauda with grilled bread ($8)

Bagna Cauda
I mean, for true garlic lovers, what can be better? Grilled bread with warm, spreadable garlic! What more would you need?

Well, there are more! Note that some of the dishes I show below are only tasting sizes, not the full portion. There's Escargot with garlic herb lemon butter ($24)
Housemade chicken gyoza with garlic ponzu sauce, pan fried or steamed ($16 for 3 - half of one shown below)
Spicy garlic seafood tan tan soup, garlic and miso based broth, squid ink noodles, calamari, shrimp, mussel, Manila clams ($16)

The full portion is a much bigger bowl than this, of course, but it gave me a taste of the spicy broth and the generous seafood that fills it.

Australian wagyu beef and garlic rice Oju-box (Korean style garlic and barbecue marinade with kimchi fried rice - $32)

This was one of my favorites. The bbq wagyu beef was extremely tender and the marinade was flavorful. Next to it was bok choy and lightly fried asparagus.

Garlic dungeness crab yakisoba with XO sauce

For the entree, I got the Garlic Fair fruits de mer - sauteed half Maine lobster tail, jumbo shrimp, scallops, with roasted garlic, chili, and shishito peppers ($32)
The shishito peppers, sauteed with garlic, were an unusual addition to a seafood dish like this but it worked pretty well.

Crispy Branzino, organic mushroom medley with garlic, roasted potatoes, haricot vert ($32)
I only tried a bite of this but enjoyed the crisped skin.

40-clove grilled rib eye ($52, 16 oz)
I didn't order this since I've had so much beef lately, but once I got a taste of it I regretted not getting it. Tender steak with tons of garlic, this is perhaps the ultimate entree for the garlic fest.

This year, it wasn't just garlicky dishes, but there are some garlic cocktails like the Bacon Clove (Jim Beam, bacon renderings, maple simple syrup, muddled maple-marinated garlic clove, served on the rocks with bacon and maple marinated garlic clove garnish, $14)
Garlic Cocktail
Yes, the garlic is strong in this one! It was surprisingly still pretty good, though, and not too savory. Thinkg of a maple bourbon cocktail with a strong garlic aroma.

For the bloody mary lovers: Devilish Mary (Casamigos Tequila, muddled garlic marinated in orange and lime, Chaya signature blood mary mix, blood orange juice, $14)
Devilish Mary
I'm not a fan of Bloody Marys so I didn't get this one.

The third one is good either as cocktail or dessert:
Spiked Frutas Popsicle (garlic and jalapeno infused Casamigos tequila, cucumber, watermelon, cantaloupe, fresh squeezed lime juice with Tajin seasoning)
A bit spicy, still refreshing, this was a fun one to eat.

The garlic cocktails and popsicle are available on Sundays only during August, but the food menu is available daily.

Oh, don't worry too much about coming home with garlicky breath. Just during this month, you can find mouthwash in the bathrooms at Chaya Venice. The restaurant's done this so many times they're all prepared now.


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