Raku (Las Vegas, NV)

5030 Spring Mountain Rd
Las Vegas, NV 89146
Dining date: 3/29/11

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Raku is one of the off-Strip Las Vegas restaurants I hear most about. Forget off-strip, the rave reviews I’ve been hearing about this place eclipse most of the restaurants on the Strip. Raku’s charcoal-grilled robata is one of the restaurant’s specialties, but they also offer a variety of fresh fish and an assortment of cold and hot plates. Before going in, I asked around for recommendations and the answers I got spanned the whole menu. Clearly, the restaurant does a lot of things well.

We ordered a bunch of things in no particular order, but started with an amuse from the kitchen.

Taiwanese spinach, enoki mushrooms, shitake mushrooms, bonito flakes


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Light and refreshing, this was a nice start to the meal.

Bluefin Tuna Sashimi


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The restaurant has a chalkboard of daily specials, and this was one of them. Oh my goodness…this was fantastic. Exceptionally flavored and really tender, this was so good. Easily better than much of the toro (and this wasn’t toro) I’ve had in other restaurants; it briefly reminded me of Urasawa.

Agedashi Tofu


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This homemade tofu was very good – soft and delicate with a subtle but present soy flavor. Prepared agedashi style, the umami-rich broth was also very good.

Crispy Fried Shrimp


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The shrimp here were crispy as advertised and moist on the inside. Nothing special really, but good. I’m never really sure if I’m supposed to eat these sort of things in its entirety, shell-on; but we did in this case.

Crispy Asparagus Okaki


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Another crispy dish, I enjoyed the contrasting tenderness of the asparagus with the crispy rice cracker breading. There was a nuttiness to the breading, which I thought also went well with the vegetable.

Juicy Deep Fried Chicken


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This was a little bit unique as it seemed to be chicken that was rolled up, then fried and cut. Juicy on the inside and crispy on the outside – no complaints here.

Yellowtail Carpaccio


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The fish was good here, but the bluefin spoiled me a bit as it didn’t seem as special. Still, the wasabi and yuzukosho did a nice job of brightening up the yellowtail in this dish.

Fish of the Day – Yellowback Seabream


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This was one of the fish of the day, served whole. It was a pretty small dish with only about 8 chunks of white flesh. It was very good though, with a crispy exterior from the deep frying.

Steamed Foie Gras Egg Custard


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The custard was silky smooth with a fairly subtle foie gras flavor. Very comforting. The piece of duck breast on top was pretty good too.

We proceeded with a number of robata-grilled dishes.

Butter Sautéed Scallop with Soy Sauce


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The scallop (served in its shell) was cooked well, but I thought the butter was a little overpowering here.

Chicken Thigh


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This was the first piece where I could really get a sense of the charcoal grill flavor. There was a smoky char on the chicken, and it was moist and flavorful. Really simple and really good.

Kobe Beef Filet with Wasabi


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Again, a good smoky flavor from the grill paired with some really flavorful tenderloin. Surprisingly juicy and flavorful. I liked the fresh wasabi as well, countering the rich meat. Delicious!

Kurobuta Pork Cheek


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I was surprised to find this rather chewy, kind of like a chicken gizzard. Maybe I just haven’t really had cheek in this type of preparation. It was well-marbled, and the porky flavor was present.

Kobe Beef Tendon


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Not my favorite. I never really like the tendon though, and this was like a big blob of gooey tendon. So meltingly tender, I wasn’t sure if I was biting into fat or tendon. I think this was probably a very good preparation, but it’s not my thing.

Duck with Balsamic Soy Sauce


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An interesting dish here – the duck was prepared well, and the balsamic soy and fresh onions did a good job of cutting through some of the richness.

Apple Marinated Lamb Chop


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Tender and juicy, this was a damn good lamb chop. I’m not sure if I got any apple flavor though, but I didn’t mind.

Kobe Beef Outside Skirt with Garlic


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Really good. Exceedingly tender and flavorful, with a nice garlic touch.

I had high expectations for Raku and I wasn’t disappointed. In fact, it exceeded them. After dining at places from Joel Robuchon and Jose Andres, it was nice to get something rather simple with clean, familiar flavors. Almost like a detox, if you will. The raw fish preparations (ooh the bluefin!) and the robata-grilled items stood out most to me, but it was a well-rounded meal.


Raku (Las Vegas, NV) — 8 Comments

    • Actually, I didn’t know that was an option. Given that my mother is a bit picky and doesn’t eat raw fish, we likely would’ve opted to just order a bunch of things a la carte anyway. Plus, I wanted to try all the recommendations I got.

  1. omakase here is amazeballs but if you don’t want to, just ask for the salmon rice thing that they prepare for you. i forgot what it’s called because it’s off menu but we always get it. it’s basically rice in a clay pot with salmon roe and a bunch of furikake of sorts and when they’re done mixing it, it’s heaven in your mouth. we always get that and the kurobota pork cheeks and the agedashi tofu. i still think there is no better agedashi tofu.

    • Will definitely drop by Raku (multiple times?) next time I go to LV. Knowing the omakase option exists, that will surely be something we’ll want to try. Haha will request “salmon rice thing!”

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