Cassia Now Open for Lunch

…but I’m not sure I’d go. They seem to be consistently raising their dinner pricing over the past year, but I was really hoping that lunch would be a little more affordable. Instead, lunch pricing, for the dishes that the menu has in common with the dinner menu, seems to be exactly the same. And it’s expensive. $22 bowl of laksa, a soft drink, tax and tip, and you’re breaking $30. The more affordable lunch entrees are $17.

I love Cassia, and they can obviously choose to price items how they want, and they’re always packed, so I guess there’s enough customers to sustain the pricing, but they’ve essentially priced me out of it being anything but a special occasions meal.


Seriously this place sucks. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a restaurant increase its prices so quickly, and I maintain the food is not that good.

If you care to be infuriated, check out this post from less than a year ago with Cassia’s opening prices.
The pot au feu has increased EIGHTEEN DOLLARS! The fried cauliflower increased from 9 to 14. What the fuck. Hopefully Ng will make all the money he ever wanted off Cassia and then open a small place where he actually cares about the food and doesn’t completely gouge his customers.

Seriously, who eats here? Who will pay these prices and endure that atmosphere?

Does rent really necessitate these prices? Bestia seems similar to this place, embraced by both a hip crowd and a culinary crowd, but Bestia’s prices are so much more reasonable. And they never really jacked up their prices when they realized they were the most popular place in the city, even though the crowd there would have no problem with a fifty percent price increase. More power to them.

I for one will not be eating at Cassia anytime soon.


Agreed. Nothing was that great to justify the price, though the seafood platter was the best bargain and best of all that that we had. Pot au fue is visually stunning but was pretty meh.

Preferred spice table much more than Cassia.

Guess I will play devil’s advocate for Cassia.

Everyone in Santa Monica will eat there.

Santa Monica is home to extremely wealthy people with no concept of price. There is no difference in the original price of the pot au feu to Cassia;s regular customers as the current price. An $18 increase only matters to people that are driving in to eat there. In Santa Monica, people will pay anything to eat at a hip, sleek place with good food. These are people going to clubs and dropping multiple thousands of dollars on bottle service a couple of blocks away afterwards… it’s silly to think they would care about an $18 price increase, or anything like that.

Does it suck for everyone else? Sure.

But the real estate Cassia is sitting on must be absurdly expensive to rent out. Not sure how much you can blame them.

Prices are not really any better at Bestia. A plate of skirt steak costs $45 at Bestia, same portion costs probably $30 anywhere else. Cassia sells skirt/flank for $36; so Bestia is beating them in price level by $9.

Bestia’s prices also started out pretty high. A $22 Laksa at Cassia is about 2-3x the portion size of a pasta at Bestia, and they start at $20.

If the food isn’t good enough to justify paying for it, that’s one thing, but I don’t know if it’s fair to criticize Cassia for their prices alone. It seems more like people are just pissed off that they started low and increased prices?

Taco Maria used to be $42 with seemingly more variety, and now they’re $75, almost a 100% increase, no increase of courses, or dessert, or anything, and seemingly less variety, and no one seems to give a fuck.

I don’t know that Cassia is as great as it’s price level indicates, when in LA, I eat at Bestia every week… and Cassia rarely, but I think people should just come out and say the food sucks if it actually sucks. The economics of the place are going to force it into charging high prices. Maybe they should’ve just started high, but rapid price increases going along with adoption over the first year are not an uncommon tactic in the restaurant industry. I am not sure they should be singled out for that alone.

Finally, I am guessing Cassia has kind of transitioned into a space where it doesn’t matter what foodies/hounds think about them, clearly their core customer base is just wealthy Santa Monicans.

Whatever else it is about the place, I still don’t know where to get better Laksa, or a better pina colada for that matter shrugs

I would be super happy if the profits allowed Bryant Ng to resurrect the Spice Table as much as anyone else though. A small intimate spot with inventive food like that is still dearly missed for sure. I don’t think such a thing could open in SaMo though.

Not true. The the uni pasta has gone from $18 to $32. Yes they added lobster but they also took away whole strips of uni (the higher quality more expensive stuff) as topping on the pasta.

Bestia also charges 3-4x retail on their winelist so they get the unsuspecting diners that way.

I agree with general points about Bestia and pricing (see my above post), though they recently took uni pasta back to $25 without lobster and returned the strips of uni =D

1 Like

I wouldn’t count that out. I work in a totally different industry, but I was looking at opening a second location in Santa Monica. I current rent in Encino. Rent price in SaMo is probably 3-4x what I’m paying in Encino (and I’m already in what’s considered an expensive part of Encino).

I think Bryant also had family friends helping him out at Spice Table (at least initially). There is an ARMY of people working at Cassia.

I can’t afford the place, either (at least not on anything approaching a regular basis). But I don’t begrudge the guy for charging the max of what the market will tolerate. Of course, I couldn’t really afford the place initially that easily, so I’m not really put off by the price increases.

1 Like

Hmm, the wine list thing is problematic. Are there any lobster/uni pasta dishes under 32? Do those exist in this wonderful city of ours?

More importantly, have you gone to San Sebastian yet?! I’m dying for your report.

You’re wrong buddy, Taco Maria used to be 39 dollars. :grinning: Haha with that being said, we’ve had multiple discussions about how crazy TM’s pricing and how it’s turning it into a completely different kind of restaurant because of those prices. Still, that’s an intimate tasting menu place where the chef comes to chat with me every damn time and the waiters/waitresses actually know what their talking about. Cassia is a glorified cheesecake factory. Place is massive and loud and sceney.

I one hundred percent agree that their core customer base is wealthy Santa Monicans. When I said the food isn’t that good, I meant it isn’t worth paying these prices for. But that’s a matter of opinion.

I guess ultimately I’m just super bummed that one of the city’s best chefs could have opened any restaurant in the city and this is what he came up with. It’s crazy expensive and it feels like a club and though the food is good, I’m not sure it’s the focus.

Change in plans. Not enough time to do San Sebastián this time so back to Barcelona it is.

1 Like

I get what you’re saying and I agree somewhat. At the same time, in my book, he paid his dues with Spice Table and I don’t begrudge him getting paid through Cassia this time around.

From the wealthy Santa Monican’s view it’s a godsend though. They don’t have very good food in general, and hardly anything of high quality in Asian fare. Their desperation = everyone else’s loss pretty much.

Hopefully Bryant Ng will open up another cheaper place.

I think we all knew it would be at least somewhat of a letdown when we found out it was going to be in Santa Monica, haha.

But yeah, since it costs about the same, it’s obviously more worth your while to eat at Taco Maria versus Cassia; I was just saying even the best places often increase prices pretty rapidly as they experience adoption. It helps when the food is exemplary and not merely good though.

I think everyone still misses the Spice Table. They never even built the damn metro they shut him down to build…

Just gotta pray for a new place in Inglewood from Ng I suppose haha

It’s always been there…

IMHO San Sebastián >> Barcelona, so MAKE time.


1 Like

Crab and uni pasta at cento pasta bar

1 Like

Working the weekend before and after.

That Madrid layover really cuts into travel time.

Will do San Sebastián next time.

i thought i was the only one who thought this.

i mean, barcelona was terrific, and i’d go back there in a heartbeat, but
i just…preferred san sebastian.

1 Like