Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Yum Cafe de Chaya

When I last spoke to you of M Cafe de Chaya, I compared it to Gwyneth Paltrow and I made some unkind observations about her. But I recently re-watched The Royal Tenenbaums on Netflix and I was reminded of how marvelous she was as Margot. Remember this scene?

"Well, I wanna die." How many times have you said that whilst directing a madeleine into your mouth? I know. Everyday, right?

I guess it goes to show no one wants to die and that's where healthy living comes in. The life force drives us. A month or so ago, it drove my friend Ana and me to Bar Method and then it drove us to M Cafe de Chaya in Melrose where we got a chopped salad and a mixed greens salad and I got an Inari as per usual and a dessert too.

salad 2

salad 1


apricot tart

I also happened to run into Lauren of harbknocklife at M Cafe. This isn't remarkable because she lives at M Cafe and has run into DianaTakesABite at this same M Cafe which makes sense because Diana also lives there. The remarkable thing is that Lauren blogged a "What Not to Wear" comparing my footgear to hers and Ana's. As I read it, I said "I wanna die" while shoving a biscuit toward my mouth. Difference between me and Wally is, I ate it.

I also ran into Bethanney from Real Housewives of New York. And yes, I snapped a picture. She was with her fiance and they sat outside in the sun.
bethaney outside

I'll dedicate She's Only Happy in the Sun to her for that reason. And because I love Ben Harper more than bacon wrapped shrimp. Don't watch this if you're going through a break-up or it'll make you really wanna die. Now you're hell bent on watching it aren't you? I hear ya (sicko).

Ben Harper, to digress just a tad, is the root cause of some not insignificant hearing loss in my left ear. It was Coachella 2003. Ben Harper was going to play a set but after Queens of the Stone Age.

My friend Ana - she of the other manicured sandaled foot- and I decided to make our way to the front of the stage right by the speakers so we could enjoy Ben's suicide inducing music in its full bloom. Well, by the time he took the stage, Queens of the Stone Age had deafened my left ear. That's what happens when you're young and foolhardy. You think you can't be damaged and certainly not permanently - but you can. When you're old you know this shit because you can never switch the phone to your left ear because Ben Harper/Queens of the Stone Age jacked it up at an outdoor concert six years ago.

Macrobiotic food which M Cafe serves, and the macrobiotic oevre is apparently premised on the understanding that food can do permanent damage as well. It therefore emphasizes whole grains, soy, organic local seasonal produce, and excludes dairy, meat and eggs but embraces fish. A macrobiotic diet, at root, has to do with the energy in food as M Cafe's Chef Lee told me, Lauren and Tastespotting's Sarah at a luncheon last week organized by M Cafe to promote its new "Little m" menu at the Beverly Hills M Cafe location. The Little m concept provides more affordable-portable options and will migrate to the other locations if it has traction in 9021Ho.

m cafe door

At the luncheon in the Culver City M Cafe, to which I was kindly invited by Sarah, we sat at the communal table with two lovely journalists and M Cafe's publicist, and we then proceeded to ravage the whole, unprocessed, organic, untampered foods provided.

For my drinking pleasure, I ordered my usual roasted barley tea aka boree cha, which I love for the toasty hay-like flavor with just the barest implication of sweetness.
boree chae

The kale lemonade was deliciously refreshing and beautiful to look at too. Be sure to accessorize with a jade bracelet if you order this. It goes good together.
kelp lemonade

As for the starters, the standout star was the roasted vegetables, particularly the roasted chestnut which was so sweet, dense and furry in the mouth like the best micro potato in the world.


roasted veggies

We also dove into a platter of sushi. The spicy shrimp and the mushroom were yummy. You can get two sushi and a side salad for around $5 as the manager observed and it would be a filling and affordable meal. This is probably true for the average bear. For the bear that resides at the outer edges of the bell curve, I'd order something more lest a human get mauled and the campsite looted.


For my entree, I got DianaTakesABite's favorite Gado Gado salad. It's now my favorite too. If you don't like creamy peanuts or peanut butter-ish dressing, then you won't like this salad. The only people that should fall into this category are those with deadly peanut allergies. All others will love this salad. Because it's the right thing to do damnit.


Lauren ordered my favorite: the Seitan bowl. It's delish. Trust me. I've done the research again and again. But like I said before, I think this is the hungry man bowl of M Cafe so don't try to squeeze into a bandage dress after eating this thing.


The Sea Bass and the Big Mac looked good.

sea bass

big mac

Sarah ordered the bibimbap which was bananas. It was nothing like the real thing but it was still good. I guess it's kind of like comparing Jane Eyre and Wide Sargasso Sea. There's a thematic connection but a totally different POV. And though the kimchi was so far gone it was sour and effervescent, I liked it. The best thing was the kochujang which was sweetened with miso. We Koreans approved. So who are you to disagree?


We ended with dessert and none could withstand the blatant superiority of the chocolate cake. Forget everything else. Just order the cake.


It was a great meal and I'm sure I'll be back at M Cafe again and I'm even certain I'll run into Lauren and Diana there. I'm clairvoyant like that. It must be a compensation for partial deafness of the left ear. We can thank Ben Harper for that. Thanks Ben.
M Cafe on Urbanspoon


  1. Mmm Gado Gado's peanut dressing is like salve to my wounded heart. If I had a wounded heart. Maybe I should listen to more Ben Harper?

    Let's you, me and Harb plan to run into each other at M Cafe soonish. We need to bring this baby full circle.

  2. I was bummed to miss this midweek lunch! Luckily, I swindled a do-over for this weekend ;-) I am sneaky like that. Thanks for the intelligence, I know what I'll be ordering!

  3. dude, did bethanney look really old? great body but she has a sinewy face. her fiance isn't that dude with the receeding hairline is it? man, i'm SOOOO not up to date with real housewives of ny.

  4. M's sushi is one of the foulest things I had in '08.

    And let's hope someone in Milan decides to kill the fugly Roman sandals for summer '10.

    As always, kudos for free meals, hope you tipped.

  5. I'm going to have to pop over there on a lunch break and try the Little M fare. I am a huge fan of the kale and peanut salad which is conveniently also sold at Whole Foods a block, I really have to try that cake!

  6. Have you heard Vanessa de Mata (of Brazil) and Ben Harper sing together? It's divinity really and sadly so far no one in the US cares, but the combo is widely popular in Brazil. Will send linky. Oh and yes, the food and feet look supberb. Way to go on that paparazz shot.

  7. I like this place. I always feel good after eating here.