Popeye Salad (Spinach Salad with Sauteed Mushrooms, Bacon, Cashew Nuts):
One of our favorite Salads at Aburiya Raku, the combination of a deep, porkiness from the Bacon, nuttiness from the Cashew and their Housemade Soy-Ginger Dressing makes it really satisfying.
Seitoku - Trapeza - Junmai Ginjo Sake (Gunma, Japan):
A new addition to the menu, we haven’t had that many notable Sake from Gunma, so we were eager to try this. Seitoku has an immediate alcohol note, but quickly dissipates on the palate and finishes extremely smooth. Drinkable by itself, it paired really well with quite a few of the dishes this evening.
That perfect smokiness from their imported Japanese Binchotan Charcoal, the Okra are just cooked through, and the Katsuoboshi (Bonito Shavings) reinforce the flavors. Fantastic!
Eryngii Mushroom Skewers:
While they offer a variety of Mushroom Skewers, the Eryngii Mushroom Skewers might be their best offering: It soaks up the subtle smokiness from the Yakitori grill, but retains a delicate meatiness and unique earthy flavor. Not as powerfully aromatic as Truffle, but the Eryngii are noteworthy in their own right.
Asajime Chicken Breast Wrapped with Chicken Skin:
Raku’s use of Free-Range, Asajime Chicken (dispatched the day of cooking) really makes their Yakitori stand out: It is still amazing just how juicy, flavorful and with a distinct poultry flavor their Yakitori skewers are. The Asajime Chicken Breast morsels are plump, juicy, and in an elegant touch, they surround the Chicken Breast with crisped up Chicken Skin. Brilliant.
In a standout and unusual option, Raku offers Pig Ears roasted over their Yakitori grill(!). As lovely as usual, they are crisped up, smoky, and still have a bit of the gelatinous cartilage crunch on the inside.
Don’t forget to add their…
Koregusu (Okinawa Island Peppers with Awamori (Okinawan Sake)):
The attention to detail by Raku is impeccable. The pairing with Koregusu really makes the Pig Ears stand out (the condiment was added just for the Pork Ears).
Steamed Foie Gras Chawanmushi (Egg Custard):
Oh yah! The @A5KOBE @Porthos @js76wisco @PorkyBelly @Ns1 favorite is as satisfying as before: Beautiful creamy, light Chawanmushi, perfectly cooked as usual, custardy, silky, and brilliantly infused with Foie Gras mixed in. There’s a real wonderful unctuousness in each bite. So good!
Pork Intestine Skewer:
As noted before, I don’t like Offal that much at all, and Intestine isn’t something I normally enjoy, but I can’t stop ordering this dish! A perfect showcase of their Kushiyaki grilling skills, crisped exterior, creamy interior with just a subtle touch of funk, this is one of the best Intestine dishes I’ve ever had! So good!
Don’t forget to add a dab of Shichimi Togarashi (the Japanese 7 Spice Mixture that’s on the table’s condiments section).
American Kobe Beef Tendon Skewer:
Even better than their Pork Intestine Skewer, this is an outstanding hefty chunk of crisped Beef Tendon on the exterior, giving way to an amazing soft, gelatinous, creamy, silky example of why Tendon is so great. Whenever 3 of my friends visit, they insist on coming to Raku just for the Tendon!
Tsukune Grilled Ground Asajime Chicken Skewer:
Yes, this looks like a Meat Lollipop , but it’s a nice example of juicy Ground Asajime Chicken, marinated with spices and mixed with Shiso Leaf. Their Housemade Tare Sauce helps to elevate this dish.
“Yummy Miso Soup”:
The humorous and cutely named menu item is a good Miso Soup. There’s more care than the usual freebie given away at most local places. Using their Housemade Tofu (already an upgrade), it’s fresh and silky, the Mushrooms and Miso are in balance. A very good Miso Soup, but unless you’re craving it, it’s not a must order.
Takana Inari (Fried Tofu Pouch Stuffed with Rice Mixed with Japanese Mustard Greens):
One of the more recent discoveries, it isn’t surprising that Aburiya Raku has elevated what is usually the “throwaway / despised” piece of a Sushi Combination Plate - the Inari / “Football” - and created something sublime out of it: The plump, perfectly cooked Rice, mixed with their Housemade Takana (Japanese Mustard Greens), gives you that satisfying mouthfeel of great Steamed Rice, the slight crunch from the Takana, which is excellent!, and then wrapped in their Housemade Fried Tofu exterior.
It’s subtly sweet, salty, crunchy, plump and just satisfying with each bite! SO GOOD!
Service was excellent, and we were absolutely stuffed (we couldn’t finish all the food). And the total for all of this was $62 total (including tax and tip already) per person. Yes, it’s possible to order well and get some of their best dishes without overspending.
In comparison with some of the regular standbys for solid Izakaya in the area, our favorite Westside Morinoya we average about $70+ per person (no extravagant MP dishes). A South Bay favorite, Otafuku usually runs us about $70 - $85 range (no MP dishes added). Heck even the mediocrity that is Honda-Ya when we went a few times years ago ran us $50+ a person.
Aburiya Raku offers a good choice of options and highlights, from their outstanding Yakitori & Kushiyaki menu (skewers), to Housemade Tofu dishes, tasty Salads, Small Plates and some excellent dishes in their Noodles & Rice section. Their Daily Specials Board is a treat, but it’s also the Market Price portion of the menu, so it’s to be expected that ordering a bunch of items at “Market Price” will be more expensive than ordering off the regular menu. Their Sake Menu is extensive and outstanding as well.
But what sets apart Raku for us is their excellence in execution, quality ingredients and sourcing (minus the steak), and the fact it’s just so delicious.
521 N. La Cienega Blvd.
West Hollywood, CA 90048
Tel: (213) 308-9393