can’t figure out the consensus here over all of the posts… need an izakaya for next week hopefully around these parts.
the consensus is go, go often, and order everything.
Yeah, I thought the consensus was that everything here is pretty f*cking delicious. Only went once, but I agree w/ myself here.
One of the few places in LA that we have a consensus on.
Oh yeah, Stinking Rose too…
which part is confusing?
I would recommend that you give it a try. Raku is our favorite Izakaya in L.A. right now, and better than all the Izakaya we’ve tried so far in SF as well. Let me know if you need any recommendations.
yes please. reservation already booked… chef’s table and whatever you tell me to eat i’ll eat.
Original post was luke-warm on a couple of items but yes, I saw overwhelming joy. lol
I’m not sure if this is still the case but when they first opened they had 2 different specials board. They would randomly select which board to bring to a table. You’d only see 1 but not both unless you specifically asked. If you see two chalk boards on the floor ask to see both specials and order everything from each board along with all of the other selections recommended.
Nice! OK, some recommendations:
- Agedashi Tofu (Housemade fresh every day)
- Ken2 Salad - Pretty delicious Japanese Salad with Crispy Chicken Skin, Konbu, Asajime Free-Range Chicken and more.
- Juicy Deep-Fried Asajime Chicken
- Poached Egg with Sea Urchin and Salmon Roe
- Sashimi (on the Specials Chalk Board) - Definitely order either the Kanpachi or Shima-Aji Sashimi to start. Enjoy outstanding, fresh fish, Sashimi that’s superior to most Sushi Bars(!), served here at “just” an Izakaya / Japanese Pub.
- Kurobuta Pork Belly - Stewed. Delicious.
Their Yakitori / Kushiyaki (Grilled Chicken, Meats and Veggies on Skewers) cooked over Japanese Binchotan Charcoal is outstanding.
Note they use Asajime Chicken, which means the Free-Range Chickens they use are dispatched the same day as them serving it. There’s a real poultry distinct taste to the Chicken (not the bland, tasteless “white meat” that we’re used to).
From the Skewers section (back of the menu):
Asajime Chicken Thigh
Chicken Breast (it’s wrapped with a bit of crisped up Chicken Skin)
Any of the Mushrooms
Asajime Chicken Wings
Foie Gras Egg Custard - Chawan Mushi
Yellowtail Belly - Grilled (or Salmon Belly if they don’t have Yellowtail)
Kama meshi - Iron Pot Rice with Salmon & Salmon Roe - OFF MENU - Great way to finish the meal.
Some pics of the stuff in the top thread, and here are some more pics:
The following were some highlights from our last 5 visits to Raku this past month or so.
At the risk of boring everyone, since we’ve been ordering most of our favorite dishes (again), I’ll keep it as short as possible.
One interesting highlight was seeing Chef Sang Yoon (Father’s Office, Lukshon) in the house on one of our recent visits. He brought some guests and it looks like they were having a grand time. It looked like the chef was really enjoying every dish.
Poached Egg with Sea Urchin and Salmon Roe:
Ridiculously good as always.
Kokuryu - Black Dragon - Tokusen Ginjo Sake (Fukui, Japan):
I panicked and forgot the next recommendation @beefnoguy had for us, so we went with a mainstay, Kokuryu “Black Dragon” Tokusen Ginjo Sake. This was a great value, easy drinking and it paired nicely with most of the dishes this evening.
Sanma - Pike Mackerel Sashimi (Hokkaido, Japan):
This was a rare offering on their Specials board, Sanma from Hokkaido, Japan! Chef Matt’s inclusion of fresh-grated Ginger was a fantastic pairing with the Sanma, which was an oilier, heavier Fish. It was wonderful.
Wonderful Deep-Fried Sanma Spine, fried at such a high temperature to turn the Fish Bones into crunchy “Fish Chips.”
Beef Liver Sashimi:
On this visit, we brought along one of our Offal-loving friends, who freaked out when they saw Beef Liver Sashimi offered on the menu. We obliged… and yes, @TheCookie @Bookwich, it is as scary as it looks. On the positive side, it was extremely silky and tender… and I think I’ve done enough thinking about it.
Grilled Okra Skewers:
Grilled Asparagus with Bacon Skewers:
Grilled Mushroom with Bacon Skewers:
Grilled Pig Ears:
On another visit, we decided to start with…
Kirinzan - Junmai Daiginjo Sake (Niigata, Japan):
One of our favorite Sake in recent memory, it’s so interesting and pairs well with Raku’s offerings.
Ohitashi - Pickled Mizuna, Lotus Root, Bonito Flakes:
We don’t order their Ohitashi enough, and I loved this visit’s offering of the Pickled Mizuna, Lotus Root (for some nice crunch) and the brininess of the Katsuoboshi on top.
Hagatsuo - Striped Bonito Sashimi (Nagasaki, Japan):
Another wonderful offering not usually on the menu, today’s Special featured Hagatsuo Sashimi from Nagasaki, Japan. This was even more enjoyable than the Sanma we had previously. Outstanding!
Popeye Salad (Spinach Salad with Sauteed Mushrooms, Bacon, Cashew Nuts):
Raku’s Salads continue to impress. If you’re looking for a downright tasty, full-flavored Salad that stands out from the usual offerings, give their Popeye or Ken2 Salad a try.
Grilled Eryngi Mushroom:
Grilled Okra Skewers:
Asajime Chicken Thigh Skewers:
Raku’s Yakitori & Kushiyaki Skewers have been consistent from their Grand Opening until now. I love their Asajime Chicken Thigh Skewers… they have so much real poultry, deep Chicken-y taste!
Suehiro Rin - Draft Sake (Aizu, Japan):
This was refreshing and lightly sweet and easy-to-drink. A fun break from the usual (wonderful) Sake on Raku’s menu.
Live Scallop - Grilled:
The Live Scallop being offered could be served Sashimi or Grilled. We decided to see how the Grilled version might taste. It was perfectly cooked, tender, plump, and lightly seasoned.
Asajime Teba Chicken Wing:
Raku’s Teba Chicken Wing Skewers are delightful: Grilled to a point of crispy Chicken Skin (with the fat rendered down), juicy Chicken meat, perfect with a dab of the Shichimi Togarashi (the Seven Spiced Red Pepper at the table).
Shirako Yaki - Grilled Cod Milt (Hokkaido, Japan):
Shirako is already interesting enough in raw form. But Raku was offering Grilled Shirako(!) from Hokkaido on this evening, so we had to give it a try. It was smoky, slightly firm outer skin, giving way to a creamy interior. It was tasty, but I think I like Shirako more in “Sashimi” / raw form, in the hands of an expert like Shunji-san, Maru-san (Mori Sushi) or Mori-san (at Shiki).
Grilled Beef Tendon Skewers:
Grilled Pork Intestine Skewers:
Still so tasty!
Grilled Rice Ball in Broth (with Grilled Salmon):
On another visit (the 3rd visit in a month or so), we start with…
Tedorigawa - Kinka - Daiginjo Nama Sake (Ishikawa, Japan):
This is another excellent Sake that’s smooth, easy-to-drink, with a nice, clean finish.
Kanpachi - Amberjack Sashimi (Kyushu, Japan):
As @beefnoguy has said, Raku is really the gold standard at this point for Sashimi. Presentation, taste, knifework. The Kanpachi on this evening was as outstanding as always. So bright, vibrant, meaty, yet tender.
Their Handmade Tofu dishes continue to shine. I love the interplay of spicy, pickled, slight crunch, silky, tender Tofu.
Grilled Okra Skewers:
Grilled Pig Ears:
Don’t forget to add a dash of the Koregusu (Okinawan Chilies with a 3 year old Mirin and Akazake) (on the table). It adds just enough spicy zest and piquancy to offset the lush factor.
Grilled Foie Gras Skewer:
Grilled Salmon Belly:
Luscious, tender, beautifully fatty.
(NEW) Ebi Shinjo:
This was a pleasant surprise on their Specials menu: Raku featured Ebi Shinjo, or Prawn Meatballs, poached, then quickly flash-fried.
On our 4th visit this past month, we started with…
Shimeharitsuru - Jun - Junmai Ginjo Sake (Niigata, Japan):
This was lightly floral, with a nice aroma, but a bit longer finish that we normally like.
Buri - Older Yellowtail Sashimi & Grilled (Toyama, Japan):
Raku was featuring Buri on this evening, offered 2 ways, so we chose Sashimi and then Grilled.
The Sashimi was fantastic, the Buri being fatty enough to give it a really beautiful mouthfeel.
Grilled Asparagus Skewers:
Raku’s version of Agedashi Tofu has a slight crispness from the deep-frying Homemade Tofu, giving way to that wonderful silky quality.
Aji - Spanish Mackerel Sashimi (Kyushu, Japan):
Grilled Yellowtail Belly:
@Nemroz make sure you order the Grilled Yellowtail Belly on your visit. You have to ask for it. The menu only says “Grilled Fish Belly / Collar” and you ask the server which Fish Belly they might have this evening. If they have Yellowtail, order it before it sells out (it always sells out early).
It is as absurdly delicious, fatty, delicate, tender, luscious. Outstanding!
Tsukune-Grilled Asajime Ground Chicken:
Barron Point Oyster - Grilled:
They were featuring Barron Point Oysters on the Specials menu, and we decided to try them Grilled. The Barron Point Oyster arrives perfectly cooked and tender, but we enjoyed it better raw (next visit below).
Grilled Pork Intestine Skewers:
Buri - Older Yellowtail - Grilled:
The other half of our Buri arrives, grilled. It was perfectly grilled over their Binchotan Charcoal: Smoky, tender, flaky Yellowtail.
Foie Gras Skewer:
This time in honor of @PorkyBelly.
(OFF-MENU) (NEW) Tokoroten:
This is a dish that Japan has been eating for over 1,000 years(!) and it was being offered in celebration for the holidays I believe. We saw Chef-Owner Mitsuo Endo delivering this to multiple tables and wishing everyone Happy Holidays.
Made from a special type of Seaweed which they boil with Tengusa, it turns it into a “gelee” of sorts. You push the “gelee” through the device, into the bowl and you get Tokoroten!
This was like eating a lighter, refreshing version of Konjac Noodles (sort of). It was pretty tasty and a fun treat to have during the holidays.
Chef Matt (Sashimi Master) effortlessly preparing a fish:
It was mesmerizing watching Matt-san clean and break down the fish (and skin it in perfect single strokes).
(NEW) Ushio Jiru - Special Fish & Vegetable Soup:
Besides the absolutely gorgeous presentation - the bowl, the absolutely clear Fish Broth - it was so delicate, but full-bodied in flavor, like a Japanese version of Consomme in many ways. Wonderful!
Cold Green Tea Soba with Poached Egg:
Raku has improved this dish since their Grand Opening: The Chasoba Noodles are refreshing, has a nice bite to it (even though they don’t make it in-house), and it goes beautifully with the Poached Egg.
On our most recent 5th visit in the last month…
Perhaps in celebration for the new year, Raku presented us (and the tables nearby) with this cute set of Amuse Bouche bites.
Poached / Pickled Mizuna:
This seemed like a basic bite, but it was excellent, the Mizuna cooked down to a tender consistency.
Poached Fish Maw:
Wow! Crunchy, but tender, deeply flavored. I wish they added this on the menu permanently.
Homemade Yuba + Ikura:
When our server mentioned “Jikasei Yuba” I couldn’t stop smiling! @PorkyBelly @bulavinaka @BradFord and others, I hope they add this on the permanent menu (or that we can ask for it off-menu) because this is some of the most amazing Handmade Yuba (Tofu Skin) we’ve ever had!
It is SO delicate, subtle, silky, and it pairs perfectly with the Ikura. One of the Best Bites of 2018! (Yes, it’s crazy how many Best Bites we’ve been lucky enough to have had so far.)
Kagatobi - Super Dry - Yamahai Junmai Sake (Ishikawa, Japan):
This wasn’t as bone-dry as Izumi Juudan, but it was a nice, really dry Sake.
Barron Point Oyster - Raw:
They had the Barron Point Oysters again, and this time we got it raw. This was incredible! Bright, meaty, delicate.
Buri - Older Yellowtail (Nagasaki, Japan):
Grilled Shimeji Mushrooms with Bacon Skewers:
(NEW) Bakudan - Chicken Egg, Natto, Takuan, Pickled Vegetables, Ikura, Daikon Oroshi:
On this most recent visit, we had another friend who loves Natto and pleaded with us to order this, so we obliged. After mixing the Bakudan (meaning “Bomb” in Japanese) dish together, it looks a little shocking…
They provide some crisped Nori Seaweed sheets to wrap a dab of the mixture into…
And many of you might know how Natto is Pure Evil, but I decided to give this a try…
It was absolutely DELICIOUS!
Wow, it must be the luscious creamy Chicken Egg Yolk, or the Daikon Oroshi (Grated Daikon), or the Takuan and Pickled Veggies, or the Ikura (Salmon Roe), but somehow, the funky, pungent, off-putting aspects of Natto were hidden. It was just a burst of deep, crave-worthy flavor.
Sayori - Japanese Needle Fish (Kanagawa, Japan):
Another rare surprise, Raku got in some fresh Sayori from Kanagawa, Japan. It was light, subtle and wonderful.
Grilled Portabella Mushroom Stuffed with Ground Asajime Chicken Skewer:
Kurobuta Pork Belly:
@PorkyBelly this is the luscious, tender, fresh Pork Belly we’re looking for.
(OFF MENU) Kamameshi - Iron Pot Rice with Salmon, Salmon Roe:
And the best way to finish off the evening, Raku’s wonderful, off-menu Kamameshi: They cook a special batch of Rice in an iron pot to order, topped with moist, tender Salmon and Ikura (Salmon Roe), some Seaweed and seasonings.
And it is MAGIC! The Rice is plump, fragrant, and each bite is spiked with little pops of joy in the Salmon Roe and moist, juicy Salmon!
(Be sure to order this early in the dinner, because it can take up to 45 minutes to make from scratch.)
Aburiya Raku continues to deliver one of the best Izakaya / Yakitori experiences in L.A.: From the stunning Yakitori & Kushiyaki Skewers with Asajime Chicken that is so flavorful and soulful, to some of the best Sashimi in L.A. that puts most Sushi bars to shame, to the small plates, salads, Daily Specials (surprises) and excellent Sake menu, it is one of our city’s true gems.
521 N. La Cienega Blvd.
West Hollywood, CA 90048
Tel: (213) 308-9393
Those new items look great, already looking forward to my dinner next week. On my previous visit I saw them cooking a huge 40+oz tomahawk steak, has anybody tried that? Thanks for the report @Chowseeker1999.
We haven’t tried the new 40+ oz Tomahawk Steak yet. Seeing it ordered by another table and it passing us by, that thing could feed 5 - 8 people easily?
But let me know if you end up ordering it! And try their Kamameshi next time if you haven’t ordered it yet, I think you’ll like it.
Do you know if the Kamameshi is offered everyday? That looks ridiculous.
I’ve ordered that before and yes it is delicious. and if for some reason you over-order and can’t finish, they’ll even use the leftovers to make onigiri for you to take home #justsayin
Wait. What?!?!?! That’s amazing!
Question: when you write “off menu,” does that mean it’s a special or that it’s actually not listed anywhere? And if it’s the latter, how did you discover these treasures?
I am so looking forward to trying this place. I can’t imagine why I didn’t get there on my last trip to LA.
Yes, it’s pretty awesome.
Nice! And you can also just have them make the leftover Kamameshi Rice into Onigiri to eat there at the restaurant as well. We did it last time. It was SO delicious!
I confess we haven’t eaten at Raku every day of the week (yet!) but every time we wanted to order it, it was available. Just ask.
Or if you definitely want to make sure, call ahead and confirm, but it should be OK. Hope you like it.
Just from asking, or the servers mentioning it to us. The Kamameshi was hard to miss (giant iron pot of steaming rice passing by). So the first time we saw that, we asked what that was and the rest is history. (Definitely give it a try if you get a chance!)
For other items, it might be mentioned as a “Special” by the server, but it’s not on the Specials board (like the Corn Potato creation), etc.