Man, time sure does fly, huh? It seems that it was only yesterday that we had a wonderful meal at Raku. But time had indeed marched onward and it was time for the Missus to renew Her certifications....which strangely, you aren't able to do in San Diego. Not that I'm complaining mind you, not in the least. This was actually fairly last minute, but I've got a wonderful manager and a great team who had no problem covering for me in spite of the rather late notice. This time, instead of the Missus flying out and I meeting Her a day later, She just picked me up at work and we drove up to Vegas. Of course this meant that we'd be getting in rather late, but since I usually get into the office before 6 (pssst, what they tell you about needing less sleep as you get older seems to be true!), She could pick me up at a bit after 3pm. In need of a late dinner, Raku, open until 3am immediately came to mind. We made reservations for 10pm, but actually got in before 9, checked in.....it was easy since we weren't staying on the strip....the Missus isn't fond of the crowds, cigarette smoked, and the noise of the strip. We arrived at Raku early to see if they could take us.....and being a rather quiet Wednesday, they had no problem.
Combined with the chalkboard items, the robata-ya, oden, and the rest, there's quite a bit to choose from at Raku. Luckily, we'd been here before and knew what we enjoyed....and more importantly, what we didn't. It made ordering....well not easy because of all the great stuff we had before....but perhaps a bit easier.
We'd had a long drive, so I thought the "Raku Tofu" ($4.50) would be the perfect way to refresh ourselves. Plus, Kirbie made it look delicious.
As per the program, the very nice Server told us to have this first with the matcha-shio (green tea salt), then with the whatever we wanted. While the matcha-shio experience was nice, this was just plain heaven with the house blended soy sauce.....nice mild hints of ume in it. The tofu, while soft, is not quite silken, but still wonderful and I thought the Missus would actually start chugging that shoyu......
Next up was what the Missus thought would be an interesting combination......it wasn't strange for me, but She thought the "gooey on gooey" would be different. Thus we ordered the Poached Egg with Sea Urchin and Salmon Roe ($9). This was really a nice combination. I've always been a fan of the ikura (salmon roe) that Raku serves....it isn't the overly preserved and salty stuff you see at most places. Here's it's briney with a nice "pop".
I loved how the flavors wrapped themselves around my tongue. You mixed the whole thing up...the tororo wasn't just grated, but a combination of diced and grated, so you got the nice, very mildly sweet effect. The flavors created were so complex, sweet and custard like from the uni, a mild "green taste" from the thin slices of okra that seemed like a bonus everytime you had a slice....you get the point, right?
Then the robata items started arriving. First the enoki mushroom wrapped in a nice mildly smoked bacon.
Then the Kobe Beef Fillet with Wasabi....very tender and beefy, with the wasabi adding that nice fat cutting pungency....much like horseradish.....
The tare was nice, not too sweet.
Then something we had on our previous visit, the Duck with Balsamic Soy.
We'd really enjoyed this the last time....this time around...well, I didn't care for it at all. First, the balsamic glaze tasted burnt and bitter to me and the duck was really tough.
The Missus had never had Pork Cheek robata style, so I thought it would be a nice time to try it.
Well, She liked the flavor, but the texture.......at first bite, just like pork, but then chewy and tendon like, freaked Her out.
At this point, it seemed that the one item that the Missus really wanted was still a few minutes away....so what to do?