You'll see plenty of husband-and-wife duos in the culinary business, but much rarer is, let's say, a duo of duos. But that's what you'll find at Cassia, in Santa Monica. Two couples -- Bryant and Kim Ng, and Josh Loeb and Zoe Nathan -- are behind this project, which takes inspiration from all over Southeast Asia.
Inside the historic Art Deco "Telephone Building," the space is bright and generous, but with the warmth of communal tables and a wood-fired oven.
The chilled seafood bar is irresistible -- from Vietnamese "Sunbathing" Prawns, with Fresno chiles and Vietnamese hot sauce, to Raw Spicy Scallops with dried shrimp, ham, corn, mint, and chile oil. Appetizers take inspiration from many Southeast Asian countries, or flavors, even in entirely original dishes. There's a Kaya Toast, a classic breakfast in Singapore and Malaysia of a coconut jam-slathered toast and a soft-boiled egg, but here, reimagined as an appetizer. Grilled pig's tail, with Bibb lettuce, herbs, and fish sauce.
A seafood pan roast stew arrives with candied bacon, coconut milk, lemongrass, and Kaffir lime leaf; a Vietnamese "Pot au Feu" with a bird's eye chile sauce and walnut mustard, along with grilled bread and bone marrow. And there's no faulting the noodles, from spicy coconut-seafood laksa to charcuterie fried rice to grilled pork vermicelli.
A wide-ranging wine list complements the meal, and the cocktails echo flavors of Southeast Asia, as well: a Thai Basil margarita with Thai basil syrup, lime, and preserved kaffir lime salt; and a "Versperilla" with red perilla-infused vodka alongside gin and Lillet Blanc.
And the bright, airy space is ideal for all manner of events. Parties of eight can enjoy generous tables; the central "Family Table," near the wood-fired grill, can accommodate up to 14; the Private Dining Room, up to 20, and the Wine Room, 36. And for larger events, the full patio is an enticing option, while a full buyout can accommodate 150 seated or 250 standing -- enough for even a sizable wedding, rehearsal dinner, or event.