I hope you enjoyed part 1 of this post. But before the next item arrived, it was time for a potty break. I usually don't do bathroom photos....but the restroom at Raku is pretty unique....after all, I don't know of many places that have faux grass with stone walking path (however short a walk it is) to the restroom. And once inside....are those really flower petals lining the floor and the toilet tank?
I returned to our table to find three bowls, one of them filled with water, with a "Shamoji" (rice paddle) in it.
This could only mean one thing.......the Sake Kamameshi (salmon and rice cooked in a iron kettle) was to arrive.
This was an item from the "specials board", deciding that we would need some starch during the meal we ordered it, not knowing that it was enough to feed four to five people! We also didn't know it was $35! Yep 35 dollars for a rice dish.....and I'd say it was almost worth it.
The rice was cooked to perfection, studded with salmon, grilled salmon skin(yum), ikura (salmon roe), thin chiffonades of ginger and shiso.
The Missus isn't a big fan of ikura, but after tasting the roe, I told Her that it was of excellent quality. This was a grade higher than the standard overly salty and fishy ikura. Granted it wasn't like the amazing ikura at Urasawa, but it was better than most. It added a nice slightly briney flavor to the rice, the salmon added richness, and the shiso and ginger kept everything in check. There was a nice balance to this dish.
The rice was perfect. It was moist, yet you could count every single grain. Knowing we still had stuff coming I had one bowl...the Missus had two. As we were finishing our bowls, Miki came by and told us, "we will prepare this for you to take home." And a few minutes later a package arrived. The Missus couldn't help Herself, and had to take a peek......just so you know how much rice was in that kamameshi. There were six perfectly formed salmon-ikura onigiri (rice balls) in that box:
We had couple as a snack later that night (because we just had to), and the rest for breakfast the next morning. I'm not sure if it was just the Missus and I, that we'd order it again....but if you've got a party of four, this might be worth your while.
Next up was this:
On the menu it is listed in English as "Cold Udon Noodle with Foie Gras Custard Soup". Basically, Foie Gras Chawanmushi with Udon. The chawanmushi looks wonderful, with a nice layer of dashi on the top.
The noodles are a perfect al dente, and are designed for "dipping".
There's a wonderful slice of grilled duck breast in the broth, and the texture of the chawanmushi is perfect.
I love foie gras, so for me it was custardy foie gras heaven! One the other hand, the Missus found this to be way to rich for Her. So I had most of it to myself....and I happily slurped away:
It was indeed rich, as I found myself pretty full by this time.
But there was one more dish....Agedashi Tofu ($9). In comparison to most of the other dishes, this was pretty large.
The kinugoshi tofu (silken tofu) is made in house, and is as smooth as, well silk. It is lightly coated in potato starch(katakuriko) and deep fried. This gives the tofu a fairly crisp, but thin coat. The tetsuyu (broth) was much darker and richer than most I've encountered, bordering on salty. The Missus is used to tofu that is much more "beany" in flavor, and thought the flavor was too mild. I enjoyed the ikura and nameko mushrooms as well.
Overall, we really enjoyed our meal. It's not for everybody though. We appreciated the quality ingredients, the wonderful service, and didn't think the price was too bad. If we had planned a bit better, we probably could have gotten away with about $70 for two...of course we drank no alcohol, which always adds to the price. I've easily spent more on dinner at Sakura.
You could perhaps find something comparable in LA, but not in San Diego. Funny thing, I glanced through the January issue of GQ, and found that Alan Richman called his meal at Raku one of the best he had in 2008.....
Some notes: The restaurant is small, so make reservations. I've read that they get very busy after midnight. One nice touch is that everything is written out in English, even the specials, and it seemed that everyone is well versed in describing the dishes.
Aburiya Raku Restaurant
5030 Spring Mountain Rd
Las Vegas, NV 89146
Hours: Mon-Sat 600pm - 300am
Part 1 of this post can be found here.