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

corn potato

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.

Bizarro, right?

5030 W Spring Mountain Road #2,
Lsa Vegas, NV, 89146
702 367 3511

Raku on Urbanspoon

14 Thoughts on “if you only eat at one place in Vegas, make it Raku

  1. The toilets are so bizarre but I guess that is part of the Vegas vibe!
    Welcome back and Raku looks amazing!
    Somehow the Agedashi tofu pic looks like more like egg than tofu but has me salivating nevertheless!

  2. I gotta say I love this place too! Every trip to Vegas has to include a Raku meal for me! 🙂

  3. Pingback: Tweets that mention if you only eat at one place in Vegas, make it Raku « thecattylife… for all things cattylicious… --

  4. Hey Couz, thanks for the great info 🙂 I am going to Vegas this weekend and I hope that I have the chance to try Raku 🙂

  5. Welcome home Catty! 😀 I’m rather glad that I’m off to dinner soon because I got seriously hungry looking at these pics! I hope you have a wonderful Christmas and thankyou for my lovely early Christmas present 😉

  6. Glad to hear you made it home ok Catty. I am going to Vegas for a friends wedding at Easter(!) so will keep this in mind as a place to eat.

  7. i want to try that asparagus and rice thing, and i need to know how they do the corn potato!

  8. Linda at Pink Elephants coffee,LLC on December 24, 2010 at 11:25 am said:

    Glad you made it home.:) YAY!!!!!!!
    Raku looks awesome. I love the last picture that is of you w/camera in big room.
    I have been taught that most tofu is now Frankenfood (bio-engineered). Because of
    that, a vegetarian friend has returned to eating meat for the protein. Do you ever ask the waiter where their tofu comes from? I know that sounds rude, but then,
    feeding people Frankenfood is rude. On a lighter note, Tofu is great for hot flashes.
    It balances the body’s thermostat. It also looks nice on a plate!

  9. Thanks for a very entertaining and appetising 12 months of great food focus… Have a lovely Christmas!

  10. Kay: the agedashi tofu was so weird (but delicious). I’m used to seeing it as small squares but this one was one HUGE lump of agedashi! It was fried so well that the skin was still crispy *yum*

    Kung Food Panda: I’d say every trip to Vegas from now on will also include a meal at Raku for me 😀

    Aileen: Yes check it out! Where are you staying? If you want other good Asian food, go to Wazuzu at The Encore, my friend Jet heads that kitchen up!

    Lorraine: you’re welcome! I’m so excited to hear about your Finnish meal 🙂

    Gourmet Chick: oh you MUST try this place. If I find any other good places when I’m back in Feb I’ll also let you know!

    mc: the asparagus rice thing is great.. crispy rice. No idea what that is really but was delish!

    Linda: No idea how they make the tofu.. they do make it fresh on the premises daily so it’s probably not bioengineered 🙂

    Douglas: Thank you, sir. Hope you have a wonderful Christmas!

  11. Welcome home Catty!!! I think they use one of those weird porn thrusting machines to thrust the corn middle out and then load it with mash on the second thrust.

  12. Welcome home! Just one word for you, YUM!x

  13. Sasa: Oh yes, I bet they totally use a sex toy lol 😉

    Linh: YUM indeed and yay to be home! 🙂

  14. Oooh, you’re such an inspiration. I love this blog!

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