Monday, February 27, 2012
Raku - Las Vegas
5030 Spring Mountain Rd #2
So there we were, our first night in for the weekend in Vegas and starving. We headed to chinatown from the Rio, reluctant as I've always been the typical tourist that is attached to the strip like a naked stripper is on me, but obviously my reluctance was misplaced. After being ripped off by a local cabby, we found ourselves at an asian inspired strip mall. Every store front was either japanese or chinese and in the corner was Raku, our destination for the evening.
The restaurant, with its low ambient lighting and small room was very intimate. The customary japanese greeting was very much appreciated and we were seated at a well sized table right across from the sushi bar. The server came over, took our drinks and in broken english tried to explain the specials. It is a good thing that most were written on a chalk board that she brought to the table, although it didn't help much that all that was written was the english phonetic spellings of the japanese name of the dish.
We settled on order a variety of tapas that were quite delicious and although I don't remember exactly what the japanese names were, you'll easily be able to find them on the menu should you decide to head there and try it yourself. I've decided to only mention a few that really stuck out in my mind that I think is a must have when dining there. I wish that I had more time and a larger stomach to try more choices, but that may have to wait until the next visit.
We had an order of the Agedashi Tofu which was superb. A must try. It was well seasoned and beyond comparison to what I would find back home in Calgary and might I even say, Vancouver. Along side was the hot version of their tofu, also well accept in my mouth and I think a worthwhile try.
The blue fin tuna was exquisite. A rare food item here in Canada, it was a sashimi that could not be refused. Priced at almost around $20 it was an expensive but delicious treat to try this not so common fish. Presentation was fantastic and only added to the appeal. On the plate were these salted seaweed pieces that added just the right amount of compliment to bring out the flavours.
The Tsukune was a make shift chicken drum stick. It is pretty much ground up chicken with spices added and then re-pressed on to a tongue-depressor like stick. Surprisingly quite delicious even though it reminded me of eating a corn dog at the local fair but with a presentation made for a connoisseur of corn dogs.
Lastly, my favourite item of all, the Kobe beef tendon. Words can not describe the best tendon that I've ever had any where. For those of you who are not a huge fan of soft squishiness in your mouth, I would avoid this dish, but for those of you who can appreciate tendon this is a must have and if anything, the one and only reason to visit Raku a second time. The most tender and well proportioned piece of tendon skewered and grilled. The flavour was perfect with a hint of the grill and simply melted in your mouth. I highly recommend this.
The overall cost of the visit was just over a hundred for two of us including two beers and about 6 tapas. This is a great place and despite being off the strip and in a bit of a shady neighbourhood (which I'm sure it wasn't, it was just my impression) I would definitely recommend a visit. Compared to the strip and its similar offerings, Raku beats them all out by far.
*** disclaimer: I had to borrow these pictures from other places on the internet as I didn't have my camera with me. On a real note though, the experience was genuine as are my opinions and to Raku's commendation, the presentation was identical to the photos above, proving their consistency in quality food.