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


That is a no shit assessment.


Hi @TheCookie,

Oh really? Excellent. I think the repeated subliminal messages (recommendations) from @beefnoguy and me worked! :wink: :sunglasses: :stuck_out_tongue:

You chose 3 of the Sake that were recommended without even referencing the list. Good choice! :slight_smile:

Looking forward to your 2nd report and visit.


Fantastic @beefnoguy. We will try this.

We’re both surprised at how much we’re enjoying the Sakes. The notes are much clearer and more distinguishable than wine from grapes… to us anyway.



Haha! You’re giving me too much credit @Chowseeker1999. Those Sake choices were carefully chosen based on your and @beefnoguy’s recommendations. It was our 2nd visit where we winged it.

It’s kinda’ nuts right now, but I will post that report very soon.



Hi @TheCookie,

Ah! Your 2nd visit. I see. :slight_smile: OK, looking forward to your report.



Another great dinner at Aburiya Raku. :slight_smile: Every dish was great to excellent (since we were ordering most of our favorites). :wink: A few notes on some newer items (below):

Shiokko (2 Ways), Sashimi - Baby Amberjack (Shizuoka, Japan):

It was perfect weather for some crisp, clean, cool Sashimi. :wink: Raku was offering Shiokko, or Baby Amberjack, from Shizuoka, Japan. The Sashimi continues to be some of the best in L.A. We really love the inclusion of Kiku (Chrysanthemum) in addition to the Wasabi as a condiment. Presentation is as beautiful as always. :blush:

Shiokko, Grilled - Baby Amberjack (Shizuoka, Japan):

We ordered one whole Shiokko, prepared 2 ways (Sashimi and Grilled (you can also choose Fried)). This was the other preparation, with them grilling the Baby Amberjack over their Binchotan Charcoals. Lightly smoky, the meat perfectly cooked, moist, flaky, fantastic! :blush:

Shichida - Junmai Ginjo Sake (Saga, Japan):

Raku was offering Shichida Junmai Ginjo Sake, the non-Muroka version (which was a Limited Edition run). This was quite interesting to try, after experiencing the liveliness of the Muroka. This version is still very good, with almost fruity notes and this nice roundness, but it finishes clean and dry. Excellent! Thanks again @beefnoguy.

Asparagus with Bacon Skewer:

Grilled Pig Ears:

Make sure to add a dab of the Koregusu condiment on the table (Okinawan Peppers soaked in Awamori (Okinawan Sake)). Fantastic!

Asajime Chicken Breast Wrapped with Chicken Skin:

Pork Intestine Skewer:

Tsukune-Grilled Asajime Ground Chicken:

Grilled Yellowtail Belly:

Highlight of the evening! It looks rather simple, but biting into it… lightly smoky, melt-in-your-moth, buttery deliciousness! :heart: Definitely get this before it sells out. :slight_smile:

Beef Tendon Skewer:

Steamed Foie Gras Chawanmushi (Egg Custard):

Takana Inari:

(Off-Menu) Kamameshi - Salmon Roe & Salmon Iron Pot Rice:

Our recent visit to Izakaya Hachi reminded me of all of the great Kamameshi dishes we’ve had in L.A., so we made sure to re-order this amazing Off-Menu item at Raku.

Note that it takes 30+ minutes to make, since they will be making a fresh pot of Iron Pot Steamed Rice (with various ingredients) from scratch when you order it.

Raku’s Kamameshi is perfectly cooked Rice, plump, with nice body, not too wet, nor dry, and it has this amazing aroma and taste. The Ikura and Salmon permeate every bite!

By far the best Kamameshi we’ve had in the last few years! :heart:

Service was as good as usual, and everything comes out at a good pace.

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


Update XX:

At a certain point of going to your favorite restaurants more than a few times in a year, you might start taking it for granted. Aburiya Raku might be one of those places. :sweat_smile: We’ve been really enjoying this place ever since it made its debut in L.A. and it’s just consistently been a great time, each time we go. :slight_smile:

But after experiencing so many great dishes up north (some of them better than anything we’ve ever had in our beloved hometown), I wanted to go back and try some of our great restaurants and enjoy what we have locally. :wink:

Oyaji Tofu (Homemade Tofu with a side of Chili Garlic Sauce and Japanese Mustard Greens):

The mix of spicy, garlicky, pickled Takana veggies, the fragrant Spring-like Green Onions in the tender, Housemade Tofu was great as usual. :slight_smile:

Asparagus Skewers:

Perfectly cooked. Tender, smoky.

Grilled Pig Ears:

Love these so much! :slight_smile:

Okra Skewers:

Just cooked through, smoky, a nice bit of crunch and the briny-smokiness from the Katsuobushi (Bonito Shavings) really elevate this dish.

(NEW) Sun-Dried Ocean Trout:

It looks like the chefs have been busy trying out new techniques and items. This was a new menu item this evening, Sun-Dried Ocean Trout(!). It was salty (in a good way), meaty, and tasted like a tender “Fish Jerky” but with some fattiness still in the Ocean Trout meat. It went great with our Sake. :wink:

Grilled Eggplant:

Asajime Chicken Breast Wrapped with Chicken Skin Skewer:

I’ve been taking this for granted, but seriously Raku’s Yakitori skewer of the Asajime Chicken Breast (normally dried out white meat at most Yakitori joints) is always moist, tender, and so full of deep poultry flavors (because of that Asajime Chicken), and add in the crispiness from Charcoal-Grilled Chicken Skin on the outside, and you have the best Yakitori Chicken Breast Skewer around. :blush:

Beef Tendon Skewer:

Tendon-lovers, don’t miss this. We brought a friend who had never been to Raku before, and he was blown away by how great this was! :heart:

Pork Intestine Skewer:

Even if you normally don’t eat Intestine (I don’t), this one is worth trying. It is my favorite (and one of the only) Intestine dishes I’ll eat anywhere, but it’s that good! :heart:

(NEW) Kawari Age:

Another new menu item on the Specials board this evening, Raku was featuring what they called a Kawari Age, which meant a selection of fresh, seasonal Vegetables and Fruit Stuffed with Housemade Ground Shrimp and Deep Fried! :open_mouth:

I loved the Fried Renkon (Lotus Root) Stuffed with Ground Shrimp, and the Shiitake Mushrooms Stuffed with Ground Shrimp the most. The Fried Figs were amazing as well. :blush: (@beefnoguy don’t miss this!)

Teriyaki Kurobuta Pork Rib:

Tender, fall-off-the-bone, beautiful Kurobuta (Berkshire) Pork Rib meat that wasn’t overly sweet, but wonderfully smoky. :slight_smile:

Takana Inari:

Follow-up Visit:

Yes, we had another friend who also hadn’t been and was dying to try Raku, so we figured, why not? :smile:

Kuroushi Omachi - Junmai Ginjo Sake (Wakayama, Japan):

Wow! This was a great recommendation by our server. There was an almost Muscat scent / subtle note in each sip(!), but obviously there’s no Muscat / Grapes in this Sake. It was lively and sweet, but finished clean. It went fantastic with most of our dishes this evening. :slight_smile: (@beefnoguy have you tried this one before?)

Tobiuo - Flying Fish - Sashimi (Kagoshima, Japan):

Raku just got in some Tobiuo or Japanese Flying Fish from Kagoshima, Japan! :slight_smile: As usual, their Sashimi preparation and knife skills are absurdly good. The Tobiuo was meatier and firmer than the usual Kanpachi and Shima Aji they offer.

I loved the Tobiuo Fish Belly and Innards being chopped up and marinated with Ginger and other seasonings. Outstanding! :slight_smile:

Okra Skewers:

Perfectly cooked again.

Asajime Chicken Thigh Skewers:

Juicy, tender, there’s so much stunning real Chicken flavor from the Asajime Chicken in every bite. So good! :slight_smile:

(NEW) Matsutake Dobin Mushi (Matsutake Mushroom & Seafood Broth Steamed in a Dobin Tea Pot):

It looks like it’s Matsutake Mushroom season again! While it seems like Mori Sushi is our go-to (and what our fellow FTC’ers go to for Dobin Mushi), the last 2 years for Dobin Mushi locally have been disappointing: The sourcing is from Oregon, and the Matsutake Mushrooms have barely any scent at all.

So imagine our shock when we found out Raku got in Matsutake Mushrooms from Japan! We couldn’t wait to try it.

First sip:

There’s this wonderful aroma that hits your sense of smell first, and then your taste buds as you sip the beautiful, delicate Broth that’s been steamed with Fish, Chicken and the Matsutake Mushrooms.

Raku’s Matsutake Dobin Mushi was better than Mori Sushi’s Dobin Mushi for the last 2 years. :heart: :open_mouth: (Seriously.)

Our guest who’s had so many of these items in Japan was stunned into silence. Outstanding! (@PorkyBelly @bulavinaka don’t miss this! :slight_smile:

Kanpachi (Amberjack) Sashimi (Kyushu, Japan):

It’s really neat to try out their always great Kanpachi Sashimi against the new Tobiuo (Flying Fish). The Kanpachi was more tender, slightly creamy almost, beautiful in every bite. :blush:

Asajime Teba Chicken Wing:

Crispy Chicken Skin, smoky, juicy… just great Grilled Chicken Wings! :slight_smile:

Tsukune-Grilled Asajime Ground Chicken + Onsen Tamago:

Their Tsukune (Ground Marinated Chicken) Skewer is always great, but the addition of the Onsen Tamago (Poached Egg) just puts this over the top with a creamy dip (of the Egg Yolk). :sunny:

Grilled Pig Ears:

(NEW) Nikujaga (Stewed Pork, Potatoes and Veggies):

Woo! They added a special Nikujaga dish on the menu this evening! We’ve fallen in love with Nikujaga ever since @J_L waxed poetic about it many moons ago on our old board (thanks @J_L!). Raku’s Nikujaga is a bit refined (clean), but tastes like a long-stewed, lightly sweetened Soy Sauce dish of Stewed Pork (some lean and fatty bits), soft, lovely Stewed Potatoes and some veggies. Delicious. :slight_smile:

Grilled Yellowtail Belly:

We lucked out and got the last order for their Grilled Yellowtail Belly! Succulent, fatty, luscious, slightly smoky. Our friend was again stunned and devoured piece after piece. :smile: It’s just one of the Best Bites of 2017, easily!

SO GOOD! :heart:

Kokuryu - Black Dragon - Junmai Ginjo Sake (Fukui, Japan):

We went with Kokuryu (Black Dragon) Junmai Ginjo Sake for our next bottle. It’s smooth, clean, and yet holds up to the grilled and fried dishes here at Raku very well. :slight_smile:

Grilled Pork Intestine Skewers:

Juicy Deep-Fried Asajime Chicken:

The refined, unique version of “Karaage” (or Japanese Fried Chicken) seen at many Izakayas, Raku’s version is still great, taking moist, juicy Chicken, and having it sliced in rounds with a bit of the Fried Chicken Skin on the outer ring of the round.

Foie Gras with Glazed Soy-based Sauce:

In honor of Foie Gras, and whatever ban might be incoming, we were here to celebrate great Foie Gras dishes. :wink: @A5KOBE @Ns1’s great recommendations still hold true. Perfectly cooked, tender, fatty, just so good! :blush:

Steamed Foie Gras Egg Custard:

Another outstanding recommendation from @Ns1 and everyone, one of our favorite dishes at Raku remains as great as always. So creamy, light, airy, perfectly cooked Chawanmushi (Steamed Egg Custard) with Foie Gras mixed into it. There’s this gorgeous note of Foie in every bite of the delicate Egg Custard. :heart:

I hope I never take this dish for granted. Outstanding!

Agedashi Tofu:

After having been disappointed with Iroriya’s Agedashi Tofu (using a mass-produced Tofu) (but an otherwise great meal!), trying Raku’s version with their Handmade, Fresh Tofu and perfect execution of crispy exterior floating in a nicely balanced Tentsuyu Sauce (not too much Soy Sauce, nor too much Mirin) was as great as it’s ever been.

Takana Inari:

Seriously, this humble little “Football,” usually the throwaway item in various Sushi Combination platters is so ridiculous in how good it is - the perfectly fluffy grains of wonderful Steamed Rice, the Housemade Takana Pickled Veggies, the Housemade Fried Tofu Skin on the exterior that’s delicate and perfectly seasoned. :blush:

I’m glad to have tried places like Ginji and Iroriya on our last few trips, but coming back home, and trying Raku again, the level of execution and sourcing is just on another level and makes it a favorite we love going back to, time and again. :slight_smile: I’m so glad we have places like this in our hometown, delivering some of the Best Bites of 2017 and beyond.

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

Fois Gras - Where Do You Plan To Eat Your Final Best Bites in Los Angeles?

Love me some nikujaga…

For the record: My favorite matsutake dobinmushi is not from Mori Sushi, but rather Morinoya.


Hi @J_L,

Thanks. Ah! I need to try Morinoya’s dobinmushi one of these days. Hopefully they have it on the menu soon. :slight_smile:


Thanks for the report on the new items @Chowseeker1999, I need that sun-dried trout and deep-fried fruit. Last year when they were offering the matsutake dobinmushi the matsutake was from oregon, good to know they have a source from japan now.


Hi @PorkyBelly,

Thanks. Yah as soon as we heard it was from Japan we decided to give it a try. It really made a huge difference in aroma and taste. And the Dobinmushi Broth was pretty spectacular. :slight_smile:


Nice to have a great restaurant open late a block from Largo.


Thanks for the updated reviews!

By the way, I recommended the Kuroushi and the Kokuryu Junmai Ginjo in a reply on this thread on May 22 (scroll up), amongst quite a few other bottles. I think I prefer the Kokuryu more than the Kuroushi. It’s good to know the server picked out a bottle that is also on the list!


Hi @beefnoguy,

Ah! I must’ve missed that. You had so many good recommendations on this thread! :wink: :sweat_smile: Thank you for the recommendation as well. Our guests loved both the Kuroushi and the Kokuryu as well. I agree that the Kokuryu seems like it was a more enjoyable choice throughout the evening.


Back from spending a few days in the area, and made it to Raku twice (dinner and next day for lunch). Absolutely brilliant! Didn’t get a chance to go to other places much due to lack of time and stomach space.

I’ll update with proper reviews when I have time.

As far as the sake menu goes, everything from the first page “sake recommendations” are going to be very good, though not sure if some are worth the splurge…unless one is feeling very generous and spendy (maybe not the best pairing for the entire meal.) They are very enjoyable by themselves or with random dishes (lighter flavored).

For example the Kokuryu Tokusen Ginjo (from the first page) is worth getting a glass (or two) just to pair with the pristine top quality sashimi here (or even a bottle if you plan to plow through a lot of sashimi). Fukuju Junmai Daiginjo Black Label should be great for that as well (and if oysters are available). Kikusui Kuramitsu I would pair with white fish sashimi.

They phased out the Junmai Ginjo “Moon On The Water” Suigetsu, but otherwise everything else seems more or less the same.

It is probably more fun for people to order different glasses for the entire meal, to pair better with the dishes.


Hi @beefnoguy,

Nice! So glad you made it out to Raku (twice no less) on this visit! :smile: Love their food.

Thanks for the recommendation on the Kokuryu Tokusen Ginjo and the Fukuju Junmai Daiginjo Black Label. I was really considering both of them, but wasn’t sure.

Looking forward to your detailed reviews when you have time. :wink:


Bonus, open til 1am!


A fantastic evening in late October

Shimaaji sashimi with some made into namerou (chopped/tataki style mixed with miso and scallions)

Let’s rotate that just a little…

Something from their specials menu: Bakudan. Egg yolk, ikura, yamaimo, nori, pickles. Added on natto for that needed texture. Not pictured was a side of nori which you can make a little “slider” with.

Remix dat chit until the cows come home, put a little on the nori, sip some sake…

Ken2 Salad - A Force to be Reckoned with. A myriad of delightful textures, and that bit of charcoal grilled corn was superb. Makes the sake taste even better

Since it was sanma season, and Raku had it available? Why not?

Chef Matt suggested serving it three ways. Sashimi of course, but now here is the deep fried head + carcass, and some of the body grilled and finished off with a delectable liver soy sauce glaze (kimo shoyu).

Since the sashimi was so damn good, it was time for some kanpachi. Presented here always so elegantly are various cuts from the belly side. Killer knifework, the fattiness rivaling that of a good solid winter buri, and the delectable crunch and signature stickiness is second to none.

The pork intestines were delicious as always

Delicious asajime chicken breast with skin

Tsukune with an add on onsen tamago, because that is the way to go

Foie Gras, because… #YOLO

Beef silver skin - damn this was like yuba a little bit, but it also reminded me of the skin like section you get from a super tender Cantonese braised beef brisket. The sleeper moo moo of the night

Bad pic sorry, but there were two orders of beef tendon. This was the 2nd (bad) shot

And for dessert this was a damn damn good flourless fluffy cheesecake!!!

Definitely one of my all time favorites when visiting the area.


Hi @beefnoguy,

Great report and pics! :slight_smile: So glad you enjoyed your visit to Raku again. :smile:

I saw the Bakudan on the specials menu last month, but just as we wanted to order it, they sold out for the night! Darn. :cry: It sounds delicious (even with the natto in there). :stuck_out_tongue:

All of the sashimi selections sound perfect as always. Can’t wait to go back. :slight_smile:

Wait, what Sake did you order that night?


Corkage :slight_smile:

Look at the Cowboy relaxing in an ice spa with a towel over its head, Japanese style :sweat_smile: