Chow Bella Road Trip: Raku
The tiny counter at Raku
I love the fantasy of it, the sheer variety of foods, the way you can stroll through a casino and browse fine-dining menus as if you were window shopping. (And then there's the actual window shopping -- knocking back a few cocktails and pondering the python handbags at Prada.)
Grilled Kobe beef skewers -- one soy flavored, one soy-garlic
I had a blast at Raku (5030 W. Spring Mtn. Rd., 702-367-3511), a tiny strip mall joint located on a stretch of road dominated by Asian businesses, with plenty of Korean, Chinese, Japanese, Filipino, and Vietnamese spots along the way. It's not on the Strip, which says a lot about the down-to-earth vibe here --cheerful and about as authentically Japanese as anything you'll find in the States. There are only about 7 tables, with a few more seats at the counter. For that reason alone, reservations are a must. And get this: they're open 'til 3 a.m.
|Awesome, creamy foie gras chawan mushi (custard) with a juicy piece of seared duck on top|
This is a real Japanese izakaya -- a tavern, basically, with lots of shareable dishes. I deliberated over the lengthy sake menu for a few minutes, then decided on a flight of three very good featured sakes. After that, I ordered food in a few installments, just to make sure I didn't go overboard (I always order way too much food at these kinds of places).
It was a great experience -- reasonably priced and so tasty. Can't wait to go back! I've posted a lot more photos after the jump.
|Agedashi dofu -- Raku's homemade tofu, lightly fried, in savory dashi broth, with scallions, shredded nori, salmon roe, and a dab of homemade kanzuri paste|
|Sashimi salad with tuna, salmon, spicy dressing and crispy shallots on top of baby spinach|
|Amazing fried asparagus -- so tender, with a light, crunchy coating|
|Grilled chicken with wonderful crispy skin (the skin really makes it)|
|Grilled chunks of Kurobuta. Juicy meat plus succulent fat equals damn tasty.|