The first night in Las Vegas, we had dinner at the Japanese restaurant Raku, which is located in an Asian plaza, a few miles off The Strip. While chain restaurants and franchises dominates The Strip, Las Vegas also has some really great, independent restaurants for those who don’t mind venturing a few miles away.
These are restaurants, that aren’t just driven by profit, but also by passion. Restaurants like Raku.
As we stepped inside, the staff greeted us with a warm “irasshaimase!” (welcome in Japanese), and we were shown to our table in the back of the tiny restaurant. We ordered each our Japanese beer, but the waitress mentioned that the beer came in very big bottles, so maybe we wanted to start with one bottle to share? Sounded like a good idea.
In addition to the well-assorted menu, the waitress also told us about the evening’s specials. It’s always a pleasure, when the staff members know, what they’re talking about, and aren’t afraid to provide their recommendations.
The food at Raku is among the best I’ve ever had in Las Vegas, and Trine was also very pleased. The only dish we couldn’t agree about, was the bowl with uni (sea urchin), salmon roe and poached egg. You stir it all together and eat it with a small, wooden spoon, and while this dish will never win any food beauty contests, I actually found the slimy, red-yellow goo very delicious. It was Trine’s first time to have uni, and it was probably also the last time. That tiny little spoonful she tasted was discreetly disposed of in the napkin, and I could have the rest of the bowl to myself.
After dinner, we walked down to Raku’s sister restaurant Raku Sweets for dessert, but the line outside was so long, that we decided to go back to the Strip and have a cocktail instead.
Raku is located in the Chinatown area, just a few miles from The Strip. The restaurant serves a variety of delicious Japanese small plates at affordable prices, but there’s no sushi on the menu. If you’re craving raw fish, there are a couple of sashimi dishes to satisfy your needs.
The menu is centered around robata (Japanese bbq skewers) and there’s lots of good stuff to choose among. Raku is also known for its tofu, which is made in-house and tastes amazing.
The sake selection at Raku has its own menu, and there’s a kind of sake for every taste and wallet. If you order sake, the staff will bring a tray with the most beautiful sake cups, from which you pick your cup for the evening.
Raku also serves a few desserts, but most people continue to the sister restaurant Raku Sweets, which is located in the same plaza, and which is famous far beyond Las Vegas for their gorgeous dessert creations.
• Most skewers are around $3-4
• There are also tasting menus available for $75/100
• The restroom are also worth a visit. One of them has a fish tank while the other is designed around a tree.
What to order? Agedashi tofu (tofu in a clear bown sauce). Half a serving is enough as an appetizer, and if you like it, you can always order more. Butter sauteéd scallop and as many skewers you can eat, they’re all tasty.
What to wear? In spite of the excellent food, Raku is a rather casual spot, so depending on where you’re going after dinner, anything from jeans to a more up-dressed attire would be fine.
> You can read more about Las Vegas in Virgin Holiday’s newly launched Las Vegas Guide, where you’ll also find my review of Raku
Raku, 5030 Spring Mountain Road, Chinatown, Las Vegas, NV 89146, Tel: +1(802) 367-3511, Hours: Mon-Sat: 6pm-3am, closed Sunday.