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


#525

Wow that sucks. Did he go back to vegas?


#526

Was it this chef?


#527

Forgot to reply, FWIW here is some sashimi from the over the weekend


#528

ya pretty sure that’s him, watched him slice and dice my whole meal…just as good at Chef Matt IMO.


#529

thanks, i’ve seen him training under chef matt for awhile. fwiw here’s a side-by-side of the aji; one from chef matt and the other from his apprentice.


#530

Us too. We sat in front of him and watched as he expertly broke down whole fish. Chef Matt came later. He was suited up, but we didn’t see him go behind the counter. I’m sure whoever is taking over has been well trained.


#531

You guys are the experts. What do you think? Not as clean cuts?


#532

P.S. It ain’t gonna’ stop me from going. :relaxed:


#533

The artistry of the chopstick stab in the second image is stunning.


#534

You have such a good eye.


#535

I assume pic 1 is by (ex) chef Matt?

I love aji, and I also like this sugatazukuri presentation style (also for tai and sanma, most often).


#536

to be fair, the second picture was from matt’s apprentice when he was first starting out. i’m sure he’s improved since then.


#537

yep


#538

Update XX:

First, what @ilykejordans posted was true. Chef Matt Weaver has left Raku. We visited Raku a couple of times before Chef Matt left (the last one was just before he left - we had no idea!), and then we just went back to Raku after @ilykejordans mentioned he had left to confirm the news for everyone.

Kawaba Snow Weizen:

For the hot Summer days we’ve been having, this Kawaba Snow Weizen was perfect and refreshing! :slight_smile: Thanks to @Ns1 @J_L for the recommendation.

Chikame Kintoki (Alfonsino / Longfinned Bullseye) - Okinawa, Japan:

Translated as “Alfonsino” on the menu, it seems the more common English name for Chikame Kintoki is Longfinned Bullseye. This was a dish we hadn’t seen before on the Specials menu.

As usual, Chef Matt’s Sashimi skills are without question: The Chikame Kintoki Sashimi was delicious. A mild, firm, but pliant flesh, delicate, delicious! :blush:

They deep-fried the bones and head which had some nice flavor after the dip in the fryer.

Kamoizumi - Shusen - Junmai Ginjo Sake (Hiroshima, Japan):

This was a pleasant surprise, very smooth and almost earthy. :slight_smile:

Ken2 Salad (Arugula Salad with Organic Chicken Breast, Pine Nuts, Grilled Corn, Sun Dried Tomato, Organic Chicken Skin and Wakame Seaweed):

Grilled Eringi Mushroom:

Grilled Okra Skewers:

As smoky and just cooked through as always. Wonderful. :slight_smile:

Steamed Foie Gras Egg Custard:

So buttery, light, silky. The unctuousness is in every bite. :heart:

Asajime Chicken Thigh (Skewer):

Flawless. Perfectly cooked. :blush:

Grilled Foie Gras:

So good! :heart:

(Off Menu) Kamameshi (Iron Pot Rice with Salmon and Salmon Roe):

I love Raku’s Kamameshi (Iron Pot Rice with Salmon and Salmon Rice). The Rice was perfectly cooked, toothsome, the flavors of the Salmon and Salmon Roe when mixed together were perfect.

Next visit:

This was our final visit before Chef Matt left. We had a great conversation with him and no one had any idea he was leaving.

Dassai 50 - Nigori - Junmai Daiginjo Sake (Yamaguchi, Japan):

We’ve had Dassai 50 before and Dassai 23, but this was the first time we noticed Raku serving Dassai’s Nigori Junmai Daiginjo Sake. For this hot day, it was lightly sweet, so easy to drink and a cool refreshing break inbetween bites. :slight_smile:

Shima Aji Sashimi (Striped Jack):

The Shima Aji (Striped Jack) Sashimi was absolutely outstanding (as usual). The great knifework, brightness and great texture from the Striped Jack, just SO GOOD! :blush: Little did we realize this was Chef Matt’s final Sashimi preparation for us. :sob:

Raku Tofu (1/2 order):

(Specials) Umi Budo Sunomono (Sea Grapes) (Okinawa, Japan):

From their Specials menu, Raku just got in some Umi Budo from Okinawa, Japan. The texture of this special type of Seaweed was distinctly crunchy, and the light splash of Vinegar gave it a bright, bracing taste.

Grilled Asparagus Skewers:

Grilled Okra Skewers:

Amaebi (Live Sweet Shrimp) (Santa Barbara, U.S.A.):

This is the first time we’ve seen Amaebi at Raku, which was a pleasant surprise. :slight_smile: The Live Sweet Shrimp from Santa Barbara were as good as offerings from the best Sushi joints around town. Firm, meaty, but silky texture, inherently sweet. So good! :heart:

The Shrimp Head could be prepared fried or in Miso Soup. We chose fried, since it was so hot outside still.

Grilled Pig Ears:

Grilled Eggplant:

American Kobe Beef Tendon Skewers (Oregon, USA):

Grilled Pork Intestine Skewers:

Takana Inari (Fried Tofu Pouch Stuffed with Rice Mixed with Japanese Mustard Greens):

Hearing the post from @ilykejordans saying Chef Matt was gone, we had to find out if it was true and what might’ve happened, so off we went on another visit…

Speaking with the manager and staff, everyone confirmed that indeed, Chef Matt Weaver had left Raku. :frowning: But it was amicable. Apparently, he wanted to spend more time with family and take some time off. The manager mentioned he’d be studying knife sharpening and looking into other studies with his time off.

(New) Koshino Kanchubai - Junmai Ginjo Sake (Niigata, Japan):

This was a new addition to the Sake menu, Koshino Kanchubai, with their Junmai Ginjo version. There was an initial floral (and almost alcoholic bite), but then it quickly rounds out and finishes smooth! It was delicious, and went well with many of the dishes tonight (@beefnoguy). :slight_smile:

Kanpachi (Amberjack) Sashimi (Kyushu, Japan):

Post-Chef Matt Sashimi at Raku. Just look at the picture: Chef Matt has trained the rest of the staff well. The Kanpachi Sashimi was realistically just as good as when Chef Matt prepared it. It was bright, fresh, great knifework and no gristle or issues in any of the slices. :heart:

For anyone worried if Raku would suffer post-Chef Matt - of course Chef Matt Weaver is special and irreplaceable in many ways - but what makes Raku so good is that their entire kitchen staff is like a well-oiled machine in Great Consistency.

The person preparing our Sashimi tonight was the shorter Japanese Chef who normally has been actually manning all the stations, but we’ve seen him learn from Chef Matt over the years, and have eaten his Sashimi when Chef Matt wasn’t in.

Grilled Tomato Bacon Skewers:

Perfectly crisped Bacon on the outside, sweet Cherry Tomatoes within. Very good! :blush:

Asajime Chicken Thigh (Skewer):

Crispy Asparagus Okaki:

Grilled Pork Intestine Skewers:

Seriously as amazing as always. Definitely for @Xochitl and even Non-Offal fans. Smoky, crisped on the outside, creamy on the inside. :slight_smile:

American Kobe Beef Tendon Skewers (Oregon, USA):

:heart:

(Specials) Bakudan (Chicken Egg, Natto, Takuan (Pickled Vegetables), Daikon Oroshi):

This is the only Natto dish that I would ever consider ordering: As noted before, I have no idea how I can eat the Pure Evil that is Natto (Fermented Soy Beans), but Raku’s Bakudan (meaning “Bomb” in Japanese) is fantastic! It is undoubtedly because of the Daikon Oroshi (Grated Daikon Radish), Yamaimo (Mountain Yam), Salmon, Salmon Roe, Green Onions and the creamy Egg Yolk that manages to mask the Evil. :wink: :stuck_out_tongue: :smile:

Mixing it all together:

Add it to some perfectly crispy Nori (Seaweed) and you have a real umami bomb of flavor! :blush:

Takana Inari (Fried Tofu Pouch Stuffed with Rice Mixed with Japanese Mustard Greens):

(New) Grapefruit Ice:

A new Dessert added to their menu was their Grapefruit Ice. It was seriously like pure essence of bright, sweet, lightly bitter Grapefruit distilled into an icy, cooling form! :blush: Perfect way to end the evening.

Aburiya Raku continues to deliver fantastic great Yakitori & Kushiyaki Skewers, Izakaya small plates and top quality Sashimi despite Chef Matt Weaver’s departure. For those that might be worried, it should be noted Chef Matt was always focused on the Sashimi only. There were always talented chefs working the Yakitori station, the back of the kitchen with the Stewed and Boiled dishes. The Fry station was separate, as were the Salad station. In other words, it’s not like a traditional Michelin starred restaurant that lost its “star chef” or something.

Raku losing Chef Matt is unfortunate, but the Sashimi station (that he left) has delivered flawlessly since. We’ve had the Sashimi when Chef Matt wasn’t there about… 5 - 6 times or so before he left (when he was either out on vacation, back in the Vegas branch for something), and it’s clear he’s been training multiple chefs in the kitchen (who man the other stations) on Sashimi. (@TheCookie @A5KOBE @BradFord @skramzlife @bulavinaka and others)

It is a testament to what makes Raku so great: We’ve seen the Yakitori specialist flip over and work the Salad station on some evenings and vice versa. We saw another chef who prepared a lot of the Stewed dishes come out and learn from Chef Matt one evening as well. The whole back of the house continues to deliver consistently great dishes, and on this latest visit, Raku was as great as ever.

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

http://aburiyarakula.wixsite.com/weho


#539


#540

Wow, sounds like an interesting combo.


#541

Cool combo - but I have been burned so many times by pop-ups.
You cannot move these chef’s around and expect them to be the superstars (that they are in their own kitchens) wherever they go - only LeBron can do that.
Of course, IMHO.


#542

This looks super sloppy

image


#543

I have no opinion on the matter. I haven’t even been to Raku. Just sharing an email that I got from the Kali mailing list. :grin:


#544

Hi @tailbacku,

That was actually from Chef Matt, not the replacement (FYI). But to be fair this was off of a tiny fish. The Chikame Kintoki that they got in that day were really small, so the Chef was working with a much smaller filet / surface area.

It tasted fantastic.