A selection of the best restaurants and what to eat there

Aburiya Raku

If you're looking for one of the best Japanese restaurants in Las Vegas, this is it.
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Abuyria Raku is nestled in a relatively unassuming strip mall in the middle of Las Vegas’ Chinatown. But don’t be fooled, as this little center features some of Vegas’s best Japanese food. With a steady flow of customers and often hour-long wait times, this is a gem in the proverbial desert.

Headed by Chef Mitsuo Endo, a James Beard Award Semifinalist, Raku is a robata style restaurant which essentially means charcoal grill in Japanese. They use this special grill which is powered by binchō-tan which is a special type of white charcoal that is made in Japan with oak. This charcoal produces an extremely high heat, sometimes over 2,000 degrees. As you can imagine, this means that Raku specializes in all sorts of grilled items from skewers to grilled seafood. The restaurant itself has a stable menu, which has not changed in years, but they know and execute it well. In addition to the staple menu items, Raku does offer daily specials around seasonal fish and vegetables it flies in from Japan twice a week.

Rating: 8.5/10
Price Point: $$$ (Avg. $50-100pp)
Category: Japanese Robata

Hours:
6pm to 2am Mon-Sat (Closed Sundays!)

Contact:
5030 W Spring Mountain Rd #2
Las Vegas, NV 89146
702-367-3511 (Reservations Recommended)
http://www.raku-grill.com/

Menu:
http://raku-grill.com/grill/menu.html

Typically, a meal at Raku can run $50-100 per person, depending on how many specials you order, or you can opt for their Omakase course. Omakase means “I’ll leave it up to you” in Japanese, which in the context of ordering food means they’ll put together a multi-course meal based on your needs, dietary restrictions, featuring a mix of seasonal specials and classic staple menu items. Their Omakase course runs either $75/$100 per person, with the latter featuring more special items. It’s a good way to get started with Raku, or you can check out my ordering guide below to find my favorites.

Update: As of Q2 2019, they’ve opened a new special seating patio, where parties of 4 or more can call ahead and be treated to a special Omakase/Kaiseki course. This runs $200 per person, and must be reserved at least 1 week in advance.

Personally, when I eat at Raku, I treat it like I’m eating at a Tapas joint. You want to experience as many of these recommended dishes as possible, so try to go with 2-4 persons and share skewers and dishes!

Bryant’s Ordering Guide

Whats this about? I’ve gone to a lot of restaurants and tried many things on their menus. I think one of the toughest things about eating at or trying new restaurants is knowing what to order and ordering well. Unfortunately, not all the items on a restaurant’s menu are stand-outs. So here, I’ve done the work for you and picked my favorites that I have personally tried that should make for a delicious meal.

Seasonal Specials:

Raku’s specials change daily and they will inform you of what is available before taking your order. You’ll want to pick one or two specials daily from this list, and build the rest of your order from the remaining recommendations below!

Sashimi Moriawase

$25-55 per person
This is a chef’s selection of fresh sashimi. This usually comes with Amberjack, Yellowtail, Ocean Trout, or Bluefin Tuna + some seasonal specialties. You’ll tell your server how much to spend, ie $100 worth of sashimi. Typically you’ll want to spend around $25-50 per person. If this is a little too pricy, go for the Yellowtail Carpaccio menu item instead.

Negitoro Ikura Bowl

Market Price – Order 1 per person
This is a Bryant Special – you’ll have to ask for this specifically as they wont offer this on any of their menus. If the restaurant has “Negitoro” on their special boards, then ask them for a “Negitoro Ikura Don” – this a rice bowl featuring finely chopped fatty bluefin tuna bella (otoro) mixed with green onions plus a heaping serving of salmon caviar (ikura). The negitoro provides tons of delicious, fatty flavor, and the ikura brings salt and umami to the dish. Spread some fresh wasabi and mix the two together and eat with rice.

Grilled Alaskan King Crab

Grilled King Crab (MP – Order 1 per 1-2 persons)
They often get fresh, uncoocked alaskan king crab legs which they will grill up on their robata and serve to you simply. Sweet, delicious, and juicy.

Seasonal Fish

Market Price – Order 1 per 1-2 persons
Raku flies in fish twice a week and they feature some very unique and special ones from all over the world, but mostly Japan. They can be served a variety of ways including Sashimi, Fried, or Grilled, but I prefer grilled. My favorites are:
*Nodoguro/Akamutsu (Blackthroat Sea Perch) – My favorite fish of all time!
*Hakkaku (Sailfin Poacher) – Delicious but beware the bones!

Seasonal Skewers: (MP – Order 1 per 1-2 persons)
* A5 Wagyu Kushi – Insanely marbled japanese beef skewers. Melt in your mouth with outstanding beef flavor.
* Iberico Pork Shoulder – Iberico is the wagyu version of pork. These pigs are fed acorns and chestnuts to make them fatty, these have a unique and superbly flavorful profile.

Regular Menu Items

Oyaji Tofu (Order 1 per 2 Persons)
Crispy Asparagus Okaki (Order 1 per 1-2 Persons)
Juicy Deep Fried Chicken (Karaage) (6 Pieces, Order 1 per 2-3 Persons)
Kurobuta Pork Belly with Spinach and Mustard
(6 Pieces, Order 1 per 2-4 Persons)
Asajime Chicken Teba Wing $3 – (1 per person)
Tsukune Grilled Ground Asajime Chicken with Poached Egg Dipping Sauce ($3.5 + $1) (Order 1 per 1-2 persons)
Kobe Beef Outside Skirt with Garlic $7.5 (Order 1 per 1-2 persons)
Kurobuta Pork Cheek Skewer $4.25 (Don’t get this if you already ordered Iberico Skewers) (Order 1 per 1-2 persons)
Apple Marinated Colorado Lamb Chop (Order 1 per 1-2 persons)
Butter Sauteed Scallop with Garlic Soy Sauce (Order 1 per person)
Eringi (King Oyster) Mushrooms (Order 1 per 1-2 persons)
Yellowtail or Kanpachi Kama or Salmon Belly (Order 1 per 1-4 persons)
Cold Udon Noodle with Fois Gras Egg Custard Soup (Order 1 per 1-2 persons)
Cold Green Tea Soba with Poached Egg (Order 1 per 2-4 persons)
Fois Gras Rice Bowl (Order 1 per 1-2 persons)

Bryant’s other favorites, but probably not for everyone:

Poached Egg with Sea Urchin and Salmon Roe (Order 1 per person)

How does the rating work?

0 – 5: Poor or Below Average
5 – 6: Mediocre, Passable
7: Good
8: Great
9: Extraordinary

Bryant's Review for Aburiya Raku

Love the food
95%

Taste

90%

Presentation

90%

Service

Positives

  • +Delicious Food

Negatives

  • -Menu doesnt change frequently
  • -Slow Service
92%

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