More friends visiting, and they requested Aburiya Raku, so we gladly obliged.
The selection of fresh Fish for the evening:
We began the evening glancing over the Sake menu, and one thing we’re appreciating over the course of many visits is the updating and curating of this menu. At first glance it might be hard to tell, but the new additions have been welcome. On this visit we noticed a Sake and brewer we’d never heard of before and when our waitress described the taste, we had to try it.
Sake Cup - Choose Wisely:
I love their tradition of letting you choose the design of your Sake cup for the evening.
Okunomatsu - Juhachidai ihei (十八代伊兵衛) - Daiginjo Shizukusake (Fukushima, Japan):
We’ve been fortunate to have experienced many delicious Sake over the years, and more recent recommendations from @beefnoguy like the Born series of Sake have been fantastic (thank you!). This offering from Okunomatsu, Juhachidai ihei is nothing short of stunning!
This is what the bottle and menu list as a Shizukuzake / Shizuku Sake, which is a “drip method Sake,” meaning the Sake is extracted without manual pressing, by hanging it in a cotton bag and letting it drip to separate (sounds fascinating). I’ll defer to @beefnoguy and other Sake experts to chime in.
But the result of this extraction method for the Juhachidai ihei is a delicate floral, almost sweet, but balanced Sake. There were notes of melon-like flavors, but it was balanced, and while not extremely dry, it finished so cleanly. According to the bottle, they have been brewing since 1716 in Japan!
This was one of the best Sake we’ve ever tasted! Highly recommended! Paging all the Sake lovers @beefnoguy @J_L @BradFord @CiaoBob @bulavinaka and anyone I might’ve missed (@TheCookie?) .
Oyaji Tofu (Homemade Tofu with a side of Chili Garlic Sauce and Japanese Mustard Greens):
Their Homemade Tofu - a delicate, silky mouthfeel - gets elevated with strong, but not overpowering, additions with their Takana (Japanese Mustard Greens) and Chili Garlic Sauce. A wonderful starter!
Shima Aji Sashimi (Striped Jack):
Excellent, as fresh and wonderful as usual. Knife work and attention to detail on the accompanying ingredients (that all go well with the Sashimi) is appreciated as always.
Katsuo Sashimi (Bonito) - Chiba, Japan:
For this evening, our waitress points out that they just got in Katsuo from Chiba, Japan. It is a heavier fish compared to Kanpachi and Shima Aji, but it’s meaty yet tender, and the pairing with fresh-grated Ginger is wonderful!
Ken2 Salad (Arugula Salad with Organic Chicken Breast, Pine Nuts, Grilled Corn, Sun Dried Tomato, Organic Chicken Skin and Wakame Seaweed):
This is one Salad that continues to stand out even for some of our “I don’t eat Salad!” friends that tag along. To this date, even Salad-haters have been surprised and enjoyed the Ken2 Salad. Perhaps it’s the combination of moist, tender Organic Chicken Breast (that was actually fresh-cooked and sliced, and not pre-packaged stuff) mixed with Grilled Corn, Sun Dried Tomatoes and Wakame Seaweed… or it’s just the crunchy Deep Fried Organic Chicken Skin crackling on top?
Juicy Deep-Fried Asajime Chicken:
Moist with a nice crunchiness on the exterior, as tasty as usual.
Our Yakitori and Kushiyaki (Grilled Skewers) appear at this point. Most are repeats of our favorites from before, and they were wonderful as usual!
Asajime Teba Chicken Wing:
Enoki Mushrooms with Bacon Skewers:
They are simple and classic, but surprisingly this was many of our friends favorite of the evening (along with 4 - 5 other items ;)).
Asajime Chicken Thigh Skewer:
Salmon Belly (listed as “Kama or Fish Belly (Teriyaki / Shio)”):
I finally remembered to order this after so many recommendations from @PorkyBelly!
I regret not ordering this more often! As much as I love Gjusta’s Salmon Belly from their Smoked Fish / Seafood Case, having Salmon Belly perfectly grilled over charcoal on their Yakitori grill is amazing! It is juicy, tender, luscious and SO GOOD! Definitely a must-order. Thanks @PorkyBelly!
They didn’t have Yellowtail Belly this evening, but we’ll be back to try that next time!
Steamed Foie Gras Egg Custard:
As many times as I’ve come to expect the silky, light, delicate Chawanmushi (Steamed Egg Custard) at Raku, which whips and blends the Foie Gras into the Egg Custard before steaming, it still continues to blow me away! Wonderfully airy, light, fragile and yet it has that backnote of buttery lusciousness from the Foie Gras combined within.
It is outstanding! And the highlight of the evening! (tied with the Juhachidai ihei Sake.)
Thanks again @Ns1.
Don’t forget to add the Koregusu (Okiniwan Pepper & Awamori Rice Spirit blend). We devoured 2 orders of this.
Asajime Chicken Breast wrapped with Chicken Skin:
Kurobuta Pork Cheek Skewer:
Kurobuta Pork Belly:
Slow-cooked, stewed Pork Belly, that blend of succulent fat and lean, and so tasty.
Pork Intestine Skewer:
Tsukune-Grilled Asajime Ground Chicken Skewer:
Beef Tendon Skewer:
So, so good!
Soft-Shell Crab (New Zealand):
@PorkyBelly I found the other half of your missing Soft-Shell Crab from Kato! Raku serves whole Soft-Shell Crabs on special this evening, flown in from New Zealand.
They were fantastic! Done in an Age (Fried) style, with a light batter, crunchy and not oily.
Foie Gras with Glazed Soy-based Sauce Skewer:
And we finished up with their Foie Gras cooked over their Yakitori grill. Perfectly cooked, buttery perfection!
Aburiya Raku continues to deliver wonderful dining experiences with friends. Sitting back and enjoying their variety of Skewers or Small Plates or their Market Board with Daily Specials, along with an extensive and thoughtful Sake menu, it continues to be a welcome Yakitori & Kushiyaki and Izakaya specialist in this part of town.
521 N. La Cienega Blvd.
West Hollywood, CA 90048
Tel: (213) 308-9393