Monday, April 15, 2013

Restaurant Review: Raku Japanese Charcoal Grill (Las Vegas)

Raku Japanese Charcoal Grill

With only 3 days to celebrate my birthday in Las Vegas, we left nothing to chance by researching what not to miss in Sin City and tops of that list was Raku, a Japanese robata (charcoal grill) restaurant in the Chinatown district. Within one-hour of our plane landing we were seated at the most beautiful restaurant and ate, what turned out to be, the most delicious meal of our entire trip. Raku was a serious find and thanks to the Las Vegas Weekly's Most Important Restaurants, we'll be back to try the remaining 17 restaurants (we hit 2 other restaurants on the list).

Raku Menu

We absolutely loved all the charcoal details of this charcoal grill restaurant, from the little charcoal chopstick holders to the charcoal piece in the water pitchers (what do you think Brita filters are filled with? You guessed it - charcoal).

CelebratingCondimentsCharcoaled Filtered Water

My siblings were in town helping me celebrate my birthday, and it was good thing because we wanted to order everything off their robata menu, as well as their appetizer, cold, hot and special sushi menu. But since this was a robata restaurant we decided to stick to their specialties. We learned Raku is known for their homemade tofu (the best you'll ever have, stated the waitress), so we ordered their house specialty tofu and their agedashi (fried) tofu. The housemade soft tofu arrived first, as the fried tofu was going to take 20 minutes to prepare. Immediately we were all smitten. The tofu tasted of soft ricotta cheese and the flashed-fried-to-order garlic in chili sauce was simply delicious and balanced well with the delicate texture and flavor of the soft tofu. Once we tasted this we were all ready for the rest of the meal!

Housemade Soft Tofu

Next came the uni (sea urchin), ikura (marinated salmon roe) and poached egg. Stellar! We immediately broke the soft poached egg and mixed this all up. Absolutely delicious.

Uni & Poached Egg

Then came the robata (grilled) items. There was the fun enoki mushrooms wrapped in bacon. Silky smooth and squeaky, another stellar dish.

Bacon Wrapped Enoki MushroomsBacon Wrapped Enoki Mushrooms Skewer

The butter sauteed Scallop in Soy Sauce, was adorable served in the scallop shell, charred perfectly and hard to share the small single bite.

Grilled Scallops

Now if you check out Raku's robata menu, you will understand how difficult it was for us to narrow down which cuts/parts of chicken, beef and pork to select from. We opted for the pork cheeks, mainly because of the waitress's description of fatty and chewy. Man, were these skewers delicious.

Pork Cheek Skewers

We have an affinity for Japanese chicken meatballs and Raku's were pretty good. Ground chicken can be dry, but these skewers were perfect.

Chicken Meatball Skewers

My absolute favorite dish of the night (and possibly the whole trip) was the Steamed Foie Gras Egg Custard. This was like eating bacon pudding. Delicate, flavorful, light and utterly divine.

Steamed Foie Gras Egg Custard

As we waited for the Agedashi (fried) tofu, we decided to order their crispy fried chicken. Pieces of marinated chicken were rolled (like a porchetta), breaded and fried. Served on a lightly dressed bed of spinach, which added a nice citrus balance to the dish. Addictive!

Fried Chicken

The Agedashi tofu finally arrived and it was well worth the wait. Served in a light broth, this tofu was absolutely the best we have ever had.

Agedashi Tofu

By this time we weren't stuffed, but pleasantly full, so we decided to move onto dessert. We ordered their green tea creme brule and their fluffy cheesecake, while Mike ordered his dessert of choice ikura don or seasoned salmon roe on a bed of fluffy rice. Since it was my birthday weekend, our desserts came with a candle and sparklers!


The creme brule wasn't packed full of green tea flavor, but the detail of Raku just killed me. Check out the sprinkles of green tea powder on the top of the green tea ice cream. Our whole meal and evening had that extra punch of detail.

Green Tea Creme Brule

The fluffy cheesecake was where it was at. We've never had cheesecake like this before, tart, and of course fluffy, light and refreshing, a complete definition of the meaning palate cleanser. If all cheesecakes tasted like this I would become a cheesecake lover, surpassing my love of macaroons and cupcakes.

Fluffy Cheese Cake

And of course the boys shared the ikura don, which they said was absolutely amazing.

Ikura Don

Raku's decor was absolutely adorable and the service was stellar, down to the tiniest of details, such as the sake cups, to the kitchy, yet sophisticated wall inserts and the fully tiled bathroom with a huge fishtank. Raku completely surpassed our expectations and left us psyched about the week long vacation ahead, if all our upcoming meals come remotely close to this one, we're gonna never want to leave.

Small Special SakeDecorBathroom DecorBirthday Surprise

Raku Japanese Charcoal Grill
5030 W. Spring Mountain Road #2
Las Vegas, Nevada 89146
Open 6pm - 3am (hell yeah - 3am!)
Closed Sundays

No comments: