One of my favorite restaurants in Las Vegas, Raku, recently opened a location in West Hollywood. I could barely contain my excitement when I found out and made a special road trip just to check it out.
Raku specializes in Japanese charcoal grilled foods and small plates. They also offer a nightly specials menu which usually consists of various fresh fish offerings.
Raku makes their own tofu, and as a result, their agedashi tofu is something quite special. The tofu itself is very delicate and light, due to its freshness.The tofu is deep fried before placed into a concentrated dashi broth, which is soaked in by the outer crispy skin, giving the tofu a wonderful flavor.
Juicy Deep Fried Asajime Chicken
The chicken dish lives up to its name. Crispy skin, juicy and flavorful chicken. I love the presentation as well.
Poached Egg with Uni and Salmon Roe
While this has been a staple of their Vegas menu, it was my first time trying it. I loved the texture when everything was mixed together. I know it’s not for everyone though, especially if you aren’t a fan of grated mountain yams, which is also in there as well.
Steamed Foie Gras Custard
I still remember seeing this from Kirk’s post years ago and I was very excited to try it. It was one of my favorite bites of the night and I’m determined to recreate it.
The foie is actually blended in with the egg, creating a silky smooth and rich tasting egg custard. There’s no actual pieces of foie to be seen but you can taste the essence of foie in every bite. On top sits a perfectly seared piece of duck breast, which we somehow managed to divide into five pieces so everyone could have a taste!
Next up was a series of grilled skewers. All good, but not quite as good as the other items we ordered.
Kobe Beef with Garlic
Tsukune Grilled Ground Asajime Chicken
Gold Line Sea Bream (prepared two ways)
We ordered this from the specials board. You always need to be careful with ordering from the specials board because it tends to be very pricey and can dramatically increase your final bill. This one though, was actually a pretty good deal, which we only knew about from some of our friends who had dined here earlier. For about $23, the fish was prepared grilled and fried.
The fried whole fish presentation was quite lovely too.
This was not on the menu or specials board but when we asked about it, they said it was available to order. I’d never had the dish but my friend suggested we should order it, so we did. It ended up being the most expensive item we ordered, but it was also a huge dish that really filled us. The rice is cooked in a iron kettle with salmon, salmon roe, and grilled salmon skin. The oils from the salmon kept the rice very moist and rich, but without letting it turn too soft. I normally don’t eat salmon roe, but the salmon roe served at Raku isn’t as salty or briny as the usual salmon roe so I actually don’t mind it here.
Looks can be deceiving. It’s hard to tell how deep this pot is, but there were 5 cups of rice in here! We each had two bowls and still had leftovers. Afterwards, we asked to box up the rest and when I got home, I found that they had formed cute onigiri (rice balls) with the leftover rice.
Overall, we had a really good meal here. I thought the food was as good as the Las Vegas location, though it is missing some of that late night Las Vegas vibe. I’m still thrilled that they opened a location closer to me and hope to dine here again soon.
521 N La Cienega Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90048