Best of Both Worlds: M Cafe de Chaya

chayaI used to dread lunchtime as a child. While my classmates ripped open a brown bag and pulled out peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, I opened my bento box quietly in the corner, making sure that inari and onigiri my mother packed didn’t invite any gag reflex from kids around me. Japanese food was virtually unknown to average households in the mid 80s, and sushi — perhaps one of the only recognizable Japanese foods at the time — was nothing more than a prop to invite some laughs in a cheesy John Hughes movie.

Fast forward 20-plus yeas and the Japanese culinary landscape has gone through a complete makeover, becoming one of the most popular cuisines among health conscious and open minded foodies around the world. In addition to the Japanese food powerhouse likes teriyaki and tempura, a little-known up-and-coming dishes like kinpiras (burdock) and hijikis (seaweed) are quickly becoming the forefront of many health movements, including the macrobiotics diet.

chaya-1The term, “macrobiotics,” can be misconstrued as something really complicated but the foundation of the diet is very simple. The base of the diet is grains (especially brown rice) followed by vegetables and other plant-based food. Many of macrobiotics ingredients, such as root vegetables and seaweeds, are a staple in Japanese kitchen, and thus the diet is synonymous with Japanese cooking.

If you’re unsure about the Japanese cuisine or intimidated by macrobiotics lifestyle, simply visit M Café de Chaya in Culver City and you will discover how delicious and friendly this whole thing truly is. When you walk in the café, you’d think you just walked into a fancy patisserie in Paris with heavenly goodness filling the glass showcase. But instead of éclairs and napoleon, what you’ll find are a colorful array of salads including Kale with Spicy Peanut Sauce (me and my sister’s favorite), Sesame Seaweed, and Sesame Soba Noodle, and sushi like Shiitake Avocado Roll and assortments of Inari. The flavor of each dish is world class – not surprising knowing that the mastermind behind this contemporary macrobiotics cuisine is none other than the chef behind the famous Chaya empire. Oh, and yes, it has some of the best tasting desserts too.

At M Cafe de Chaya, you’ll never have to comprimise flavor for health, and vice versa.  It’s the best of both worlds!

… and if I can only shove these in the brats face now …

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Kale with Spicy Peanut Sauce and Scarlette Quinoa (vibrant red color from beet juice)

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Kale, White Beans Salad and Sesame Soba Noodles

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Inari Sushi with Mushroom, Kinpira, and Hijiki, Spicy Tuna Rolls, and Smoked Salmon Rolls

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Spring Rolls

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Chocolate Cake

Thanks to my sister for introducing me to this wonderful place and treating me to this delicioius dinner!  It was a great weekend!

M Café de Chaya
9343 Culver Blvd., Culver City, CA 90232
★★★★★

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12 thoughts on “Best of Both Worlds: M Cafe de Chaya

  1. Hi Scott! Everything looks good here, doesn’t it? Mmm … it was such a wonderful experience dining at this little cafe in Culver City! I bet there’s so many great eateries in Boston too, no? I like visiting there but I don’t get to go there enough!

    Thanks for visiting my blog 🙂

    Hirono

  2. thanks for posting my fav restaurant! the pix came out great 🙂
    i’ve noticed watching the iphone commercial that one of the “functions” they offer includes navigation/map system and they had M-cafe as their sample 🙂 the map said culver city and everything. what a great way to advertise!

    anyway let’s go back again soon! 🙂

  3. Hi Saori. I’ll give this place 10 stars if I could 🙂 It was truly an experience dining at M Cafe de Chaya. Thanks for introducing me to the place, and paying for dinner (and at Bottle Rock!). I can’t wait to go back there again!!! I’ll make sure to save room for dessert next time!

  4. do you want to come out this friday? 🙂
    and we can do grocery shopping at trader joes after… they’re the biggest & cleanest one around!

  5. i love m cafe de chaya. my favorite things to eat there are the white beans salad and the spicy shrimp and avocado roll sushi. the last few times that i’ve been there, i’ve noticed that they do not make the white beans salad anymore, it makes me quite sad.

  6. Hi Lily! The white beans salad and the sushi are my favorite items on the menu too! I too was bummed that they removed the white beans salad from the menu! I asked the staff why and he told me it was because the heirloom tomatoes in the salad are seasonal and are only available in the fall. What a bummer! My new favorites are the scarlet quinoa salad and the lentil and walnut salad 🙂 Isn’t M Chaya the best?

    Thanks for vising my blog and leaving a comment, Lily!

    Hirono

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