After an incredible amount of bizarre snafus with Ink and Animal tonight, I ended up at Raku, a restaurant that is by far the #1 most hyped spot on FTC.
Amuse bouche. The chef sent out some kind of assortment of vinegar-y vegetables that was not on the menu, and which I am unable to recall exactly. It was a pleasantly vinegary way to kick off a meal.
The Sashimi Platter was pretty solid. I think I have learned that I am more into sushi than sashimi, though. The fatty tuna was absurdly good. All of this fish seemed quite fresh and pleasant to eat. Hard to complain about anything on the plate really.
Oyaji Tofu is Raku’s cold tofu, but with a spicy chile-garlic sauce versus the green onions. It was pretty nice. They definitely make some really good tofu here, but the flavors here weren’t really special enough for me to order it again.
Tsukune was so recommended that I had to get some, and indeed, these may have been the best thing of the night. Juicy, and well-grilled, singing with flavor, and quite large. Really pleasant, although, I must say, not as good as the version Kokekokoro used to do; since they’re gone now, I guess these are probably the reigning champs, though.
Really nice crab, maybe slightly gummy batter, but still pretty good. The arugula was really fresh and perfectly dressed on the side. Fine enough.
Agedashi Tofu was excellent. The crisp skin and warm tofu worked way better somehow. They soaked up the vibrant mushroom sauce and made for an incredibly addictive bite with the ikura, seaweed, green onions, and hot sauce smeared on the side of the bowl. This was for sure better than Kinjiro’s version for me (the umami punch was notable here whereas it seems barely noticable at Kinjiro).
“Kobe” Stone Steak was almost certainly not Kobe beef. The Hennesy glaze done tableside didn’t cook the meat into oblivion, and it was pleasantly soft, with a nice meat-tartness, but there is just no way it was Kobe at $38 for 6 oz. shrugs I enjoyed my $26 Aspen Ridge skirt at Salazar last night more in terms of flavor. The potatoes were ok and it was a cool show, though. Edit: this kind of false marketing should be a severe strike against any restaurant though; upon further reflection, I really consider this a huge miss. Was it kind of “ok steak”? Yeah, but I encourage everyone to demand more than mediocrity from steak sold as fake Kobe. Although, admittely, everyone has their preferences.
My friend got a personal skewer of “Kobe” filet with wasabi that he thought was awful as it was unusually tough, and destroyed by the wasabi placed directly onto each piece lol
Well, redeeming the badly marketed steak, was the Foie Gras Skewer, which turned out to be as awesome as everyone said. I typically don’t even enjoy grilled foie gras, but this is an incredible version. Truly foie cooked just perfectly.
The Foie Gras Custard was also really addictive. I think, as old member Porthos mentioned, it was topped with a piece of duck as opposed to foie? Sort of odd… but in terms of the savor and butteriness in what is basically a chawanmushi, it was quite light and addictive. However, I think I would prefer the hedonistic bold version of this at Kinjiro more, as that version displays the foie more prominently, and it has a better texture to the custard to me.
Asajime Fried Chicken this is really clean-fried chicken that displays the crispy skin and juicy meat in a pleasant enough way. The spinach is really fresh and coated in a zippy vinaigrette. The spinach with the chicken really makes the dish, which is what the waitress told us. Quite nice.
Cold Green Tea Soba and Egg mostly had to be taken to go because of how full we were, but since I have almost not experience with soba these tasted shockingly good to me. They seemed quite toothsome, had a nice chew, and a present green tea flavor as well as just a general umami kind of profile that was simple but really addictive. If these are horrible soba, I really need to explore soba more because apparently even shit soba is pretty good stuff.
The Fluffy Cheesecake might’ve been my favorite thing of the night. Damn. Perfect texture, and just a touch of berries. Fuck. We should’ve ordered 3 of them; is there a better cheesecake than this in LA? If so, I’ve yet to find it.
My friend drank a bottle of Voss water as a non-alcoholic, and I am not enough of a sake fiend to justify the $256 on the vaunted junmai daiginjo by myself…but Perfect Snow is one of my favorite sakes, and at $17 a bottle a splendid bargain. It served me well in this meal.
At the end of this, I think it was about $140/person not counting the water and the sake, after tax and tip.
I’m not sure how to feel about this meal. I guess it was 13 dishes (“kobe” filet picture missing), a couple of high points for sure, a couple of low points, a lot of what felt fairly mediocre. I felt it was overhyped for the price. At $140/person on food alone my expectations are pretty high. Almost every dish should taste incredible. For me, I would rather spend the money at Shibumi, where I don’t think I ever approach $140 just on food, and every single thing I’ve eaten there has been above average or mind-blowing. Maybe it comes down to preferences that I don’t fully understand about myself yet, but that’s pretty much how I feel. Not a bad meal, but just not really worth the money given the other options in the city (to me).
It is nice that they’re open a solid hour later than everyone else in WeHo, though, so that’s a big plus if you’re in need of a decent place to eat after 10 PM in that part of town. With the stark paucity of options, I guess it’s technically the best restaurant in WeHo from 10 PM to 11 PM every night.
I am somewhat mystified by people’s constant return to this place after finally making it, even if they make the best agedashi tofu and cheesecake in town. I guess to be fair if we skipped the forgettable crab and “Kobe” it would’ve only been about $100/person which would’ve seemed a little more palatable. But I personally dislike going to places where I need to curate my ordering according to trashy upsells and poor execution/quality on high-priced items as opposed to being able to just trust in a kitchen to deliver me something amazing because they put it on their menu. I suppose that is a personal shortcoming, though.
I also sort of wonder how this meal woud’ve gone if we ordered omakase?
Ironically, this meal has made me look forward to trying Shibumi’s omakase more than anything else lol