Sunday, December 27, 2009

Las Vegas: Raku

Aburiya Raku Restaurant, also known as Raku, is a Japanese charcoal grill house in Las Vegas. Raku uses a rustic form of grilling called robata which grills meats and vegetables on bamboo skewers with expensive charcoal imported from Japan. The charcoal used here is oak binchotan which burns at a higher temperature and contains less moisture than other charcoals (Source: Raku). Binchotan is essentially smokeless and said to bring out the umami in ingredients.

The owner chef is Mitsuo Endo and he opened Raku in 2008. The following year, the restaurant was a semifinalist of a James Beard Foundation award for Best New Restaurant in the West. This is an impressive feat for Chef Endo being his first owned restaurant.

So where is this place? Why haven't you heard about it? Well, you won't find this hidden gem on the Las Vegas Strip or in one of the many luxury hotels throughout Las Vegas. It is located in a small strip mall off of Spring Mountain Road.

The restaurant's decor is simple with modern flare. Various condiments are displayed on wooden tables and are all imported from Japan. Chopsticks rest on oak binchotan charcoal which is used to barbecue the skewers. The setting is casual and friendly. As soon as you enter the restaurant, you are greeted by a server and quickly seated.

Seating is very limited. There are probably about seven tables serving between 2-4 diners each as well as a small bar area. Raku has an extensive sake list and offers a monthly sake sampler of three great sakes from Japan for $14.

Aside from the grill menu, Raku offers its diners various types of courses such as hot and cold appetizers, Oden, Rice/Noodle/Soup and Dessert. Marc and I do our best to come here every time we are in town. Here is a listing of our favorite dishes:

Hot Appetizers:

Crispy Fried Shrimp - $6.00

Steamed Egg Custard with Foie Gras - $9.00

Juicy Deep Fried Chicken - $8.00

Fried Homemade Tofu in Hot Broth - $9.00

Robata Grill

Chicken Breast Wrapped with Chicken Skin - $2.50

Potato with Corn - $3.00
The center is filled with potato which resembles a corn core. I was amazed at how this was created.

Kurobuta Pork Cheek - $3.00

Daily Specials

Manila Clams in a Hot Pot

Deep Fried Kamasu Rockfish


Fluffy Cheesecake - $5.00

Afterthoughts: WOW! Who would have thought you would find well-executed dishes off the strip. C'mon foie gras in an egg custard? This dish was probably the highlight of my meal, until I had dessert. Fluffy cheesecake sounded like a fancy name for cheesecake. Well, this was not your ordinary cheesecake. If you look above in the second photo, the texture was definitely unique. Light, airy and simply delicious. Marc and I had to fight over the last bite.

It took some time to figure out what to order on the menu but after a few times, you'll find your favorites. I absolutely love this place especially the restaurant hours (its open until 3am). I wish we had one closer to San Diego. Raku, you got me at moshi moshi.

Things to know:
  • Reservations are highly recommended. I don't think you can get a table without one. Call-in more than a day in advance. The restaurant is opened from 6pm-3am, Monday to Saturday, closed Sunday. Call 702-367-3511 to make a reservation.
  • Raku is located in a small strip mall off the strip on Spring Mountain. You will pass about three main lights on Spring Mountain. The strip mall is on your right side after passing S Decatur Blvd.
  • You have to order a hot appetizer, some skewers on the Robata grill, a daily special and save room for dessert.
  • Appetizers are big enough to share between two people. You get two skewers for each order from the Robata grill menu.
  • Price Range: $$$.
  • Do look at the daily specials, don't be afraid to ask questions.
5030 W.Spring Mountain Rd #2
Las Vegas, NV 89146



tastymealsathome said...

Hi, I love your blog! Your pictures come out super crisp and professional!

I saw that you're dining at Bazaar in January - We just dined there recently. The tapas portions are super small so I would recommend something around 5-6 dishes per person to be satisfied. Their menu is almost like a "create" your own tasting menu haha !

I'll add you to my favorites links, feel free to return the favor =P

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