Fantastic Japanese Tapas (Izakaya) hits West Hollywood - Aburiya RAKU - pictures


In addition to @beefnoguy’s great explanation, I would like to add some finer points.

What @beefnoguy says about wine glasses applies to many, but not all sake.
Just like wine, a sake’s aroma will concentrate in the bulb and allows you to get a more concentrated whiff.
While this amplifies the attributes of many sake, it can result in an over-concentration for some.

Notable exceptions would be:

  1. Low quality sake The aromas here are simply not ones to be enjoyed (for most people):slight_smile: Aromas from low quality sake tend to be boozy.

  2. Bold sakes Aromas from bolder sake can stand up for themselves. Many times these are best enjoyed at room temperature or warmed. In this case, a ochoko/guinomi would be the vessel of choice. Think yamahai or kimoto.

  3. Masu Some, but definitely not all, sake benefit from being drunk from a non-lacquered wooden masu–made from wonderfully fragrant Japanese cedar (sugi). Tarusake is the most obvious choice here. The Japanese cedar taru cask-aged sake is often best enjoyed straight from a Japanese cedar masu. @beefnoguy expounded on tarusake’s virtues a little farther up the thread. Who wouldn’t want to drink this??

  • The woody aroma (and to a lesser extent flavor) that is imparted by the Japanese cedar masu can get in the way of more subtle aromatic notes. For this reason, in many cases, it is not a good fit for daiginjo-grade sake.


thanks everyone for the sake / wine glass info. Good stuff.


Aburiya Raku

After the mess that was Rosaline, we had to make things right, so we headed a few blocks over to something we knew could deliver: Aburiya Raku. :slight_smile:

Pork Intestine Skewer:

Is it sad that the very first, simple Kushiyaki Skewer from Raku blew away everything we had at Rosaline earlier? This was delicious! :slight_smile: the crisped exterior, wonderful tender interior, nicely balanced Tare Sauce.

Kirinzan - Junmai Daiginjo Sake - Niigata, Japan:

After the fantastic first taste at Mori Sushi, we jumped at the offering of Kirinzan at Raku. :smile: As floral, but dry as before. Such a fantastic Sake! :slight_smile:

Beef Tendon Skewer:


(New) Corn Potato Skewer:

This was new item that the kitchen makes from time-to-time. It’s not on the menu, but our waitress mentioned they would introduce it like a “daily special” until it sells out for the day.

They core out the inside of a Corn on the Cob and stuff it with Potato, and then grill it over their Binchotan Charcoal! :slight_smile: And it is delicious! The natural sweetness in the Corn kernels really goes well with the grilled Potato, which is seasoned by the kitchen already.

Grilled Hamachi (Yellowtail) Belly:

Immediate entry for Best Bite of 2017! :heart: Raku normally offers some type of “Fish Belly” each evening, and thanks to @PorkyBelly for the recommendation, we finally got their Yellowtail Belly (their Salmon Belly is nothing to sneeze at either though ;)).

Imagine this Crisped Fish Skin, grilled over Binchotan Charcoal, which gives way to this supremely luscious, buttery Hamachi Belly! It is SO GOOD! It was indescribable how amazing this tasted! :heart:

This was a truncated visit, since we had already had part of a meal at Rosaline, but Raku continues to deliver, and thankfully salvaged the rest of the evening, delivering fantastic bites and some great Sake to end the night. :slight_smile:

Aburiya Raku
521 N. La Cienega Blvd.
West Hollywood, CA 90048
Tel: (213) 308-9393


Wow that fish skin looks amazing


Rez for 2 all set.

Sake dilemma:
My husband will have a cup then order a bourbon. Is there a nice smaller bottle to recommend or a nice, but not too extravagant regular size, where I can indulge then offer the bottle to the staff (is that appropriate?)

Experience level:
None so to speak. I’m looking for a starter kit, not something that will be lost on my palate right now.

Planned meal:
Mostly cooked or grilled veggies, meat and chicken, maybe an order of sashimi for freshness.



Meanwhile I’ll be perusing this thread again. :slightly_smiling_face:


Ask for the sashimi moriawase (sampler), 25pp or two can share one order.


Have I mentioned before that you eat exactly what I would eat (sans babies, most reproductive organs and slimy things)? So your recs are most welcome. Now I just wish I had your stomach.


not at Raku
beer and sake only - not sure about soju.


Hi @TheCookie,

Awesome! Can’t wait to hear of your visit. :wink:

Definitely check the op and earlier posts for some recs. :slight_smile:

For Sake, Kikusui Perfect Snow is a nice sweet simple starter.

I’ll have some other recs for you Wed. I don’t have the latest Sake menu with right now sorry.


Super… Thanks!


This would be the extent of my Sake experience.

Sake Flight - Happy Hour at Izaka-ya by Katsuya. Don’t laugh @beefnoguy.


That’s actually a great intro sake flight. They are far superior to low quality cheap sake that you can buy even from Chinese supermarkets (or the type of cheap sake used for “hot sake” at many places), very solid, tried and true selections and will always work for multiple applications, and best of all well known established brand names with great QPR.

I was actually going to recommend getting a bottle of Dassai 50! The Dassai 50 was actually my first ever serious intro into sake, and will work with grilled, deep fried, and sashimi.

But maybe you want to explore other kinds. Instead of a bottle, you can try a couple or more different glasses/by the glass. Or ask Raku if they are willing to let you taste a little before getting a bottle, or do a sampler.

This is also perfect weather for a nicely chilled nama sake (unpasteurized), they tend to be a bit more fruit forward, and definitely fun. Tedorikawa Kinka and Amabuki Strawberry Yeast (both should be on their sake menu) are very easy to like, pleasant, well structured, and will work great.

Here are Beau Timken’s tasting notes from True Sake’s website


Hi @beefnoguy!

Many thanks for your input on the sake flight. I’ve had it a lot and rather enjoy it. Sometimes one tends to discount their your own judgement when it comes to things they’re not experienced with.

Great! This or @Chowseeker1999’s rec of Kikusui Perfect Snow will be the one. Which do you both prefer or suggest?

If the mood seems right I will ask this. A good idea, as I’d like to do a bottle rather than a tasting this night. If they act funny we’ll just order one of the above.

I love “chilled, fruit forward”. This will be phase 3 (next time)? :slightly_smiling_face: After my introductory bottles.

How fun!


I’ll defer to @Chowseeker1999 and others who have tasted it, for tasting notes on the Kikusui Perfect Snow. I’m personally not a fan of nigori sake, which are unfiltered and look cloudy/milky but you should explore this on your own and see if you like it or not. Sometimes sake producers will purposely add sediments to a sake to give it more body and may look like nigori (but are not), such as the New Year’s Eve Dassai nama centrifuge Junmai Daiginjo sake.

Raku offers a lot of their selection by the glass, and I’m guessing the turnover is decent enough with the flow of customers they get in, thus the quality of their stock should be good (even for opened bottles for by the glass). Though if you have 2 to 3 choices in mind, it’s not unreasonable request to ask for a little bit of each to taste before you take the plunge on a whole bottle. Worst case, they say no to tasting samples before getting a bottle… though counter intuitive to helping promote sake consumption and sales.

Since you tasted the Dassai 50 before in your flight trio, I’d say go with either the Tedorikawa Kinka or Amabuki Strawberry. The latter is cheaper by about $20 something. Either of them will last you the entire evening for what you are getting in terms of food, and do have fun with it by ordering a variety. Do try either also with dessert (citrus sorbet, cheesecake etc). In addition to chilled and fruit forward, the mouthfeel is far richer than regular sake (more viscocity and texture) and for me a lot more enjoyable than nigori.

Come to think of it Dassai 50, you can buy it cheaper at any Nijiya, Mitsuwa, Marukai and enjoy it at home (same with Kikusui Junmai Ginjo which was part of your flight trio) or take it to a corkage free / low corkage zone. So for me I would rather pick something that I cannot find as easily retail and/or the cost/markup not that far off or excessive from retail + corkage.

If you do not live too far from Raku, consider taking the remaining sake home…play around with it, store it or a portion in the freezer and try it again next day or so. With the Dassai 50, I do not recommend letting the leftover sit more than a day in the refrigerator, the flavor degrades very quickly.


Hi @beefnoguy -

These are great morsels of advice.

I have seen cloudy sake (nigori) before, but it just confused me.

I did not think we could order something nice by the glass. That might change the plan this visit. It would be nice to try a variety and get a bottle of the favorite next time - and to try sake not easily accessible or something we haven’t tried previously.

[quote=“beefnoguy, post:315, topic:1176”]
If you do not live too far from Raku, consider taking the remaining sake home…play around with it, store it or a portion in the freezer and try it again next day or so.
[/quote]This a great idea. I had not thought to request this. We do not live far at all. And who knew sake freezes well?

Now my question is: @Chowseeker1999, do you take notes at these places? :grin:



Hi @TheCookie,

OK! I’m back and am able to check on the latest Raku Sake Menu for you. :slight_smile:

First, I would defer to @beefnoguy, our resident Sake expert ;). Those are some great recs for you. We liked the Amabuki Strawberry (very unique!), but know that it is unique and standout, so don’t be scared off of Sake if you don’t like it. :grin:

I love the Tedorikawa Kinka! @beefnoguy introduced that to us a while back and it’s fantastic. Clean, smooth, nice dry finish.

Here are some backup suggestions based on the latest Sake Menu at Raku. The headings correspond to the actual sections / pages on Raku’s menu to help you navigate:

(Oh! It should be noted, one of the cool things at Raku these days is that “yes” you can order every single one of their Sake on the menu by the Glass(!) (except the tiny bottles of specialty Sake at the end (they are already small enough quantity :wink: - This makes it really nice to sample a variety of them without committing to a whole bottle.)

Junmai Daiginjo & Daiginjo

  • Kirinzan Junmai Daiginjo - My current favorite from this menu (after the Okunomatsu). I would suggest that you hold off on this Sake but take note of it for later. It’s fabulous, complex and finishes so clean! But it might be fun to go 101 on some other Sake first and then go try this one after.

  • Tedorikawa Kinka “Gold Blossom” Daiginjo Nama - So good!

  • Dassai 50 Junmai Daiginjo

There are others on this list, but they are pricier. For your first time enjoying these varieties, try these first, and I’ll add other suggestions (and @beefnoguy will have even more). :slight_smile:

Junmai Ginjo & Ginjo

  • Shichida Yamahai Junmai Ginjo

  • Dewazakura Oka “Cherry Bouquet” Ginjo

Junmai & Tokubetsu Junmai

  • Kasumitsuru Extra Dry Kimoto Junmai - @beefnoguy, aaah! I forgot my impressions of this one. Do you remember anything about it? If it’s the one I think I enjoyed last year, it was a nice clean starter, but I need to be sure.

Specialty Sake

  • Kikusui Perfect Snow - Nigori Genshu - Fun, lightly sweet, easy to drink. Refreshing. :slight_smile:

And @TheCookie, if you go when they aren’t super slammed and ask nicely, they might be able to let you sample 1 or 2 of them before committing to a Glass or a Bottle even. :wink:

Hope you have fun!


Hi @Chowseeker1999 -

This is great. Thanks!

I’m thinking to try 3 cups of 3 sakes from yours and @beefnoguy’s list of nice 101s. If the server seems amenable I’ll ask which sake compliments which dishes.

Okay, I have a couple questions for you and other regulars about the cooked meats - calling @PorkyBelly. I perused thru the thread again. It looks like we can’t go wrong with the chicken selections… My favorite! The salmon belly looks like a must try. Posters seem to like bacon wrapped asparagus and pork cheeks… yes, yes, saw the intestines :flushed: That will be a game time decision. But the problem seems to be with the beef (d.h.'s favorite). It seems by law we have to order the tendon… :kissing_heart: :confounded:. But was there any other good beef offerings (doesn’t have to be perfect)?

Oh… and, not saying we’re ordering it, but just in case, which was the favorite foie gras preparation?

Yep, if you don’t want to be disappointed, order dishes that are the specialty of the house.

Thanks Aburiya Raku Eaters!


Hi @TheCookie,

Beef Skewers: Their Tendon Skewer is really the best one by far. :slight_smile: But I know Tendon isn’t for everyone. @PorkyBelly liked the Wagyu Ribcap, which I haven’t tried yet (from the specials menu IIRC).

Foie Gras: Order both. Foie Gras Egg Custard / Chawanmushi is completely different and a must order (so light and airy!), and the Foie Gras from the Skewers menu is wonderfully cooked over their Binchotan grill and also great. :blush:

And yes, the Fish Belly from the Skewers menu should be considered, the server will tell you which Fish they have available that night (Salmon, Yellowtail or something else).



I suggest asking about the prices on the specials board so you’re not shocked by the bill at the end of the night. The wagyu ribcap is 20 bucks a skewer.