How Chaya Invented Tuna Tartare

Imitation is the highest form of flattery

‍If imitation is the highest form of flattery, Corporate Executive Chef Shigefume Tachibe can consider himself and his tuna tartare creation very flattered indeed. It has become a fixture on many menus, much like other restaurant originals, popular in Los Angeles, such as the Cobb salad from the Brown Derby, the French Dip sandwich from Cole’s and Phillipe’s, the tartare cylinder Chef Tachibe first put the dish on the menu at Chaya Brasserie in 1983, and now it’s served just about everywhere, made with everything from mango to pears, prunes and butternut squash, though the original still tops our list.

Chef Shigefume Tachibe

Chef Shigefume Tachibe created the dish to please a dinner guest who wanted “something healthy and fresh with fish.” It also serves as a friendly, California version of sushi. So he mixed cubes of fresh, raw tuna with egg, chopped pickles and onion. Chef Tachibe began training in formal French technique at the age of fifteen at the Hotel Ban Show Row in Nagasaki, Japan, and to honor his Franco-Japanese cuisine, he named it “tuna tartare.” The rest is history.  It also made Chaya on of the top Los Angeles Tourist Attractions in town.

The original version remains purist in Beverly Hills, still served with avocado and a squeeze of lemon. At Chaya Venice, the tartare is spiked with wasabi; in San Francisco, it’s with apple and chile-miso vinaigrette. Chaya still sells more than 35,000 orders a year.

Watch for Chaya on an upcoming Los Angeles Restaurant Tours in the Melting Pot Tours roster. Don’t miss out on this delicious high-quality fish.