Friday, February 17, 2012

Raku Las Vegas

As a kid, I loved visiting Las Vegas to watch all the free shows, admire the hotel buildings, and dine at the buffets. After I turned 21, I visited a few times to partake in the free alcohol and casino tables. A few years ago, I basically lost all interest to return to Vegas. Then I started my food blog, and a new reason emerged for me to visit: all the restaurants.

It seems every big name chef feels the need to make a claim in Las Vegas, and it’s a food lover’s dream to be able to get so many great dining places all in one concentrated spot. So when I got a great deal to stay at Encore Hotel Suites (I’ll do a review of this eventually too), I jumped at the opportunity to cram in a quick weekend getaway to Vegas, with an itinerary that involved almost exclusively just eating.

First up was Raku, after receiving recommendations from some of my favorite food bloggers. Raku is a Japanese grill restaurant located off the main strip in Chinatown.  Our flight into Vegas got in quite late, but luckily this place is open until 3 am.

The restaurant is quite small, seating only about 50 people, so reservations are definitely recommended. They have a menu of various grill items, a board full of daily specials (which run out towards the end of the night, so try not to come too late if possible), and a long list of alcohol as well.

 

Raku Tofu

We got a half order of this, split with a half order of the warm Agedashi tofu. This was a great way to start the meal. The chilled tofu tasted very fresh. With each dish, the servers instructed us on the components and how to eat it. For this one, we were told to add some of the matcha green tea salt for seasoning.

I’ve never seen matcha salt, I love the pretty green, though couldn’t really taste the tea flavor in the salt. I preferred just eating the tofu with the shredded bonito and crushed garlic.

 

Bluefin Tuna

This was on the specialty board and since FH loves his tuna sashimi he couldn’t resist ordering this. The presentation was quite pretty. The flower was a nice touch. The side enhancements included a marinated seaweed that paired nicely with the fish. The fish didn’t quite melt in my mouth as I hoped though.

 

Saba curry

Large chunks of saba mixed with a house made curry sauce. The saba included bones which must have been deep fried prior because they were edible. The curry sauce was just the right thickness, the onions added a nice tang. We both really enjoyed this. Also included was soft fried tofu and large mushrooms, making this one hearty dish.

 

Steamed Foie Gras Custard

Laying gently on top of the egg custard was a piece of duck. The foie gras was already mixed into the custard and while I couldn’t physically see it, I could definitely taste it with each bite of the egg.

 

Seared Kobe beef

From the specialty board. This was one of our favorites of the night. We’ve had seared kobe beef before but what made this special was the thoughtfulness and mix of flavors. Accompanying the kobe beef were many elements. You could add a little to each beef slice or just choose the ones you enjoy most. I liked adding a little bit of everything.

Raw green onions, fried garlic chips, shredded ginger, ponzu jelly, radish puree, small Japanese peppers. Finished with some rock salt. It took a while to build each piece with the ingredients but the taste was quite enjoyable and I loved the interplay of all the different flavors.

Apple marinated lamb chop

The lamb chop was quite moist and cooked perfectly. It had just a hint of sweet glaze.

Agedashi tofu (1/2 order)

The red sauce on the side is a spicy paste. I actually didn’t enjoy this as much as I thought I would. It was probably the only dish of the night I didn’t love. I did get a kick out of the tiny baby mushrooms floating around in the dark broth.

Kobe beef fillet with wasabi

The beef was so juicy and tender. We loved every bite of this small skewer though I wish it wasn’t so expensive.

Overall, we thoroughly enjoyed our meal here and would love to come back. It’s the best japanese grill I’ve tasted thus far.  I did think the meal was on the expensive side, though part of the issue was that we ordered a lot of the special board items which were quite pricey. Service was very friendly and they changed plates between each course, no matter how small the bite. At the beginning of our meal, the food was very slow to come out. The restaurant didn’t seem too busy so this was frustrating because we were getting about one plate every fifteen minutes. Towards the middle of the meal the speed picked up and suddenly we had all our food at once. Regular menu can be viewed here.

Raku
5030 W.Spring Mountain Rd #2
Las Vegas, NV 89146
702-367-3511
http://raku-grill.com/index.html

 

11 Responses to “Raku Las Vegas”

  1. 1

    Kay — February 17, 2012 @ 6:05 am

    That seared Kobe looks amazing!

    • Kirbie replied: — February 17th, 2012 @ 9:22 am

      It was! I think that was my favorite of the night

  2. 2

    Kirk — February 17, 2012 @ 7:07 am

    Hi Kirbie – We love Raku, some of the dishes are a bit uneven, but overall the execution is excellent. The board special can be pricey, but some of them are excellent. The place is a big time chef hangout in Vegas.

    • Kirbie replied: — February 17th, 2012 @ 9:22 am

      Oh I found your Raku post, though i didn’t read it until after my visit. Yes those board specials can be dangerous because you don’t know the prices of them! And most of them were 20+. I didn’t realize this was a big time chef hangout though I did see Robuchon stuff there, I just didn’t make much of a connection until I read your post. That might explain why I got a tweet from Robuchon telling me I had a good lineup of restaurants (they picked up on a conv I was having with another blogger about places I was dining at during my trip and I mentioned Robuchon and Raku).

  3. 3

    twofoodiesonejourney — February 17, 2012 @ 8:59 am

    Next time you are at Raku go for the Kaiseki Menu.

    • Kirbie replied: — February 17th, 2012 @ 9:19 am

      I did see that option! I didn’t want to try it the first time out since I wanted to make sure I enjoyed the food. But now that I know I do, I would love to try the kaiseki menu. Also we were there so late, I was almost falling asleep at the end. Next time I’ll go earlier!

  4. 4

    Sandy — February 17, 2012 @ 9:17 pm

    We tried Raku last November with friends who go there whenever they’re in Vegas. It was a fun, but pricey experience. We still laugh about the scallop dish – note that it was a singular, but yummy and expensive, scallop. We also had the chilled tofu, the agedashi tofu and the kobe beef filet.

    So did you visit the restroom?

    • Kirbie replied: — February 20th, 2012 @ 10:20 am

      I did not visit the restroom =( I wish I did!

  5. 5

    Rodzilla — February 19, 2012 @ 12:12 am

    They must have used a good bit of foie in the chawanmushi for the taste to be so prominent. The custard itself almost looks like a terrine. I love the menu, really glad you fit this one in as well.

    • Kirbie replied: — February 20th, 2012 @ 10:21 am

      It was really rich. You should definitely check out Raku if you get a chance. I think you’d like it.

  6. 6

    Lake Forest Chiro — February 20, 2012 @ 1:02 am

    I would definitely give this place a visit. Just by looking on the pictures of these foods, you can say that it’ll taste good and worth the experience to try different kind of dishes.

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