CLOSED: L.A.'s Iconic Dish: Chaya Tuna Tartare Vs. CPK BBQ Chicken Pizza

Los Angeles is full of people who care passionately about food, and there are plenty of restaurants happy to serve us. We don't all agree on what constitutes "good," but we do know we like our burgers, our froyo, our Korean BBQ, our pizza. (That's right, our pizza. We like it.)

The thing is, we don't have one iconic dish. Nothing that we can point to and say, "This. This is Los Angeles on a plate." So now we're going to find out. KCET Food came up with 16 contenders. You vote on your favorites. Here's the sixth match up:


VOTING CLOSED.
Tuna tartare at Chaya Brasserie: It got some Californians used to raw fish.

The History: Sushi has of course been around for quite some time. But it was in 1984 when, according to lore, Chaya Brasserie chef Shigefumi Tachibe mixed together some raw tuna, mayo, spices, and avocado to make this dish that became a star of "California cuisine." It's hard to imagine now, but there was once a time when this dish would have been unthinkable to many Americans.

The Scene: This is an upscale Beverly Hills restaurant. Stereotype accordingly.

The Food: This is a self-styled French-Japanese restaurant, with a mix of small bites of seafood and big plates of things like pasta and steak. And that tuna tartare is still great.

Photo by Mia WasilevichBBQ chicken pizza at CPK: The dish that launched a million written food fights.

The History: CPK is so ubiquitous on the west coast now that it seems hard to believe that in 1985 a couple of dudes wanted to put weird stuff on pizza dough, and managed to get some wealthy friends to bankroll it. The BBQ chicken was on the the original offerings, and you can bet east coasters got all furious about it. Now it's on the menu at most pizza joints, of course.

The Scene: The first location, in Beverly Hills, was actually a pretty trendy destination for flashy folks when it first opened. The outposts now are all firmly "family friendly."

The Food: Pizzas, pastas, and salads, all a little sweet, but not too terrible if you're being honest. And that BBQ chicken version ... come on, admit it. It's pretty good.

Tuna tartare at Chaya
BBQ chicken pizza at CPK


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About the Author

Katherine's role as the Living editor at KCET.org keeps her running from farms to markets to restaurants to pop-up swaps all over SoCal. She's been living in and writing about this area for over a decade.
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