agedashi tofu with nameko mushrooms
I’m FINALLY HOME! As y’all probably know, I was stranded in NYC because of the stupid snow (which now that I’m home, I kinda hope it buckets so that I can at least enjoy the fun side of snow) and had to fly out to Vegas just to get back to London in time for Christmas. I know right? Flying 5 hours backwards to go 10 hours forwards. Makes no sense, but I did it.
So I had one night to blow in Vegas. Luckily I know people in Sin City, one of them being Jet Tila, Executive Chef of Wazuzu at the Wynn Encore, and when he decides to take me out to his favourite restaurant in Vegas, who am I to say no? And this isn’t just Jet’s favourite restaurant. As it turns out, it’s also the favourite of Wazuzu’s sushi chef, Masaru Matsuura. I mean ok, two chefs have picked this place as their favourite? I AM SO THERE.
Raku is located off-Strip in Vegas’ “Chinatown”. Head chef Mitsuo Endo, who by the way fitted out the premises with his own hands, wanted to do it and do it right. He didn’t want the flash of the Strip; he wanted to create a traditional izakaya restaurant with brilliant food and none of the hype. Well, he’s getting the hype all right, but for all the right reasons.
We settle into a huge table at Raku at about 10pm Monday night and I’m famished. I glance at the menu – everything looks awesome to me, I mean I was about to gnaw at my own arm – so I let Jet and Sophie (Jet’s gorgeous ladyfriend and my homie) do the ordering. I’m not going to talk much about each dish because literally everything is in a class of its own, so here’s how it went down:
amuse bouche: sesame tofu
Raku’s homemade tofu
crispy fried shrimp
Kurobuta pork cheek
Ok the corn potato I do have to talk about. This little piece of genius, which at first glance looks completely ordinary, is one of life’s biggest mysteries. The slices of corn look merely like well, corn, right? Like someone’s taken an ear of corn and cut it up? Well, you’re forgiven for being oh SO naive, my friend. Sure it’s corn kernels on the outside, but inside where the stalk of the corn ought to be is MASHED POTATO. How on earth do they do that? How do they get the stalk out and replace it with mash? I mean one theory is that somebody painstakingly sticks each kernel of corn onto a tube of mash but really? It’s too perfect to have been handled by a human. And for $3 per serve (4 pieces), that just wouldn’t justify the labour. Like I said, one of life’s mysteries.
Oh and it tastes fricking awesome too.
asparagus with crunchy rice
Kobe beef fillet with wasabi and Kobe beef skirt with garlic
green tea soba (buckwheat) noodles
shimaji kama (Spanish mackerel shoulder)
Kobe beef tendon
Oh my goodness the Kobe beef tendon. OH MY GOODNESS. Basically melted into heavenly oblivion in my mouth *love*
The food at Raku is pretty amazing. Quality, taste, execution and style, all as perfect as an informal Japanese izakaya should be. The chef’s attention to detail goes beyond the food, with the two bathrooms in the establishment designed individually to I don’t know what, shock? entertain? just for fun? Whatever, check these out.
One bathroom has this insane fish tank:
And the other has a giant (fake) tree with birds happily chirping away while you go about your business.
5030 W Spring Mountain Road #2,
Lsa Vegas, NV, 89146
702 367 3511