Raku (11678 Olympic Boulevard, 310-478-3090 West LA) has been mentioned three times in my ChowNews, so the mastery of its Korean-Japanese chef is no surprise. However, it's generally useful to know more about the menu in a restaurant where the metier is small dishes, and lots of 'em. I recently revisited Raku with a group of 5 including a vegetarian, so my selections are partially skewed towards non-meat items:
- Korean tofu steak. Fried like Cantonese doufu pok, but these thin squares are very delicate and clearly very fresh. We ordered another round of these.
- Soft shell crab. Excellent of course but more of a fried thing than a real seafood delicacy ala ankimo.
- Zucchini flowers tempura-fried with shrimp and enoki. The house classic now on the menu instead of a down-low request. One of my favourite dishes in Los Angeles! Juicy flower, crispy exterior, flavourful filling.
- Shiokara. Squid legs served in a sauce made from the innards. I've enjoyed this at several restaurants including Torafuku on Pico, but it's not for the faint of heart (strong seafoody flavour). Raku's version was great, especially seeing as my companions left it all to me.
- Shishito peppers. Small thinnish green peppers with a delightful flavour reminiscent of the pimientos de padron I sampled in Barcelona - similarly variable hotness, tambien. Fried until some are slightly charred from the pan.
- Oyster mushrooms in butter.
- Eggplant in ponzu sauce.
- Lotus root sauteed with sesame seed.
- Eggplant dumplings (minced eggplant in eggplant shell if I recall correctly).
Fine examples of Raku's flair for simple vegetarian dishes using high quality ingredients. Uniformly delicious.
- Kimchi fried rice. Tasty comfort food in the vegetarian vein.
- A lovely green tea pudding to finish.
I'll certainly be returning to Raku in future, even with the competition of L.A.'s fine izaka-ya. Raku does have the edge in Korean fare (who can resist a seafood pancake), and I look forward to comparing and contrasting with K'town recs I've collected from my blog - too many L.A. food choices!
Low End Theory