With the impending birth of our son, Husband and I decided to escape to Vegas back in July for one last relaxing jaunt before we became parents and became home-bound for a while. It was a nice long weekend spent in the pool (a huge relief on the pressure my hips are suffering) and since we drove out, we got to explore restaurants off the Strip. We already blogged about our awesome first time experience with Ethiopian cuisine. Another recommendation from friends was a Japanese charcoal grill called Raku.
I had heard about Raku via friends on Twitter and Kirk over at Mmm-yoso blogged about it. I was curious and Husband was game since well…the menu touted meat on a stick. I called on Friday for same-day dinner reservations and when they said the earliest they could seat us was 10pm, Husband was in disbelief. I told him Raku was that good but he didn’t believe me…till then.
Raku was easy to find, thanks to TomTom. Located in a corner of a strip mall, the restaurant is tiny and dimly lit, making for an intimate dining experience. The menu is made up of small dishes; Japanese tapas, I guess you could say. A lot of it is skewered meat but there are also numerous seafood items and specials written on a board. We stuck to the menu as I had been warned, some of the specials can get pricey and that night, there was nothing on there to entice Husband and I… Well, more lack of interest on Husband’s part than mine. Picky eaters…
We started with some skewered meats off the Robata grill section of the menu. First up was the chicken breast wrapped in chicken skin ($3). This was Husband’s favorite dish of the night. Moist chicken breast and crispy skin, I really enjoyed this too. We ordered seconds.
Next was the Kurobata pork cheek ($3.50) and the Kobe skirt steak with garlic ($7.50). Both were really good but the garlic chips on the beef really made this dish stand out and we ordered another round of it.
Husband ordered some miso soup ($3.80). The addition of little mushrooms really did it for me; since Husband just drank the broth, I got to eat these cute little fungi as well as the tofu and scallions.
From the Appetizer section, we ordered the Crispy Fried Shrimp ($7.00). These weren’t quite what we were expecting. I guess we were thinking more tempura-style but instead, we got a plate filled with whole shrimp, lightly fried. Now, I don’t mind having to peel my own shrimp but Husband is not into it. So guess who did all the peeling? Yup…dutiful wife to the rescue! Husband wasn’t as into this dish as I was so I got to eat most of it. And yes, I sucked on the heads, something Husband still gets icky-fied about. Mmmm…shrimp brains.
Based on friends’ recommendations, we also got the agedashi tofu. This was a bigger portion than I was expecting. I ended up eating most of this too but Husband tried some of it and liked it. I really loved the addition of salmon roe, a burst of salty flavor in each bite. I think this tied with the kobe beef with garlic as my favorite dish of the night.
The Juicy Deep Fried Chicken ($9) came out last but it was definitely not the least of our dishes. Super crispy skin, juicy chicken meat, this is how fried chicken should be.
Since I polished off most of the shrimp and agedashi tofu, I was stuffed but Husband had room for dessert and ordered the Melting Chocolate Cake ($8). I took a couple of bites and I have to say, the chocolate cake was not good at all. There was a bitter note to it. Husband didn’t like it either; we both agree, one of the worst desserts. Skip!
It was disappointing to end the meal on a bad note but overall, Raku was fantastic. Husband decreed that we MUST come here whenever we are in Vegas and placed this meal as one of the top in his life. You won’t find me arguing with him.
4 1/2 NOMs for Raku!
5030 W.Spring Mountain Rd #2
Las Vegas, NV 89146
Open 6pm-3am / Closed Sunday
Reservations STRONGLY recommended