One of the delicious harbingers of summer in L.A. happens every year at downtown's Chaya. That's when the restaurant group rolls out a special konro grill. Shipped all the way from Japan, the grill sparks up on Memorial Day and sizzles with kushiyaki (or grilled food) all the way until Labor Day.
This konro is rectangular and long, allowing chefs to cook as many as a dozen lances of meat at a time. And while Chaya cooks everything from vegetables to desserts on the grill, it's the gyutan, or beef tongue, that gets my tongue wagging. Most gyutan is thinly sliced before being threaded onto skewers, but not at Chaya. Here, it’s a big, fat cube of tongue, and it’s some of the best tongue I’ve ever enjoyed. (Wink, wink.)
Tender, and almost pillowy soft, the gyutan has a delicate beef flavor which soaks up much of the smokiness from the grill into its spongy texture.
While the short rib, lamb, chicken, and other skewers at Chaya Downtown are satisfying, the gyutan is special for its quality, textural characteristics, and subtle flavor. Paired with a very rare Kirin Ichiban frozen beer (think beer Slurpee)—which is also offered at Chaya Downtown during the summer months—this summer taste is complete.
Hot grilled meat on sticks washed down with super cold suds—as they say in the beer commercials: it doesn’t get any better than this.
Chaya Downtown, 525 S. Flower St., Downtown, (213) 236-9577