West Hollywood: Small Japanese Plates at Aburiya Raku

poached egg with sea urchin and salmon roe

poached egg with sea urchin and salmon roe

 

I’ve always meant to check out Aburiya Raku in Las Vegas. Sadly for a number of reasons, I have missed out on this hot izakaya. So when I heard they recently opened a location in West Hollywood, I was all about it.

We walked in on a Monday night and were seated on the patio. If you want to sit indoors and watch the grill action of the robata grill, I suggest making reservations.

oyaji tofu

oyaji tofu

 

Raku is best known for their small plates. The five of us each picked two or three dishes and ended up with 12 dishes. We started with the oyaji tofu and poached egg with salmon roe and uni. The house made tofu was wonderful with an assortment of condiments including chili and greens. I really liked the texture of the tofu which was closer to cheese.

The Japanese love the “slime” factor of okra, Japanese mountain yam and the like. The poached egg dish was simply wave after wave of slippery textures. I loved it but I can see how others might not. It’s all silky texture broken up occasionally by an okra pod or tiny mushroom.

fried ice fish

fried ice fish

 

 

We also had fried ice fish simply dressed with lemon juice. It’s kind of like seafood fries.

mackerel

mackerel

 

We had two types of sashimi including mackerel. We also had striped bass which was prepared two ways; we got the fried body a little bit later in the meal. Your server will tell you how to each the sashimi. She cautioned against soy, advising a little bit of ginger first. The wasabi is freshly grated. And instead of pickled ginger, you get chrysanthemum. I thought that was very neat.

bacon wrapped enoki

bacon wrapped enoki

 

When we got the bacon wrapped enoki, we immediately got another order. It was hard to split these savory bites. The bacon was fatty and quite different from American bacon.

eggplant with bonito

eggplant with bonito

 

It made me laugh to see the grilled eggplant buried under a mountain of bonito flakes. It was good though as the bonito lent some savory flavor to the eggplant.

beef with wasabi

Kobe beef with wasabi

 

The Kobe beef with wasabi would have also been a second order if we weren’t starting to get a bit full. I really wanted another bite of the super tender beef.

okra with bonito

okra with bonito

 

Going back to the slimy texture of okra, it actually disappears when grilled. I like it both ways so of course I got the grilled set, also buried under bonito.

kurabota pork cheek

kurabuta pork cheek

 

I picked out the kurabuta pork cheek which was amazing. I will have to get two orders of this next time if I don’t manage to try something new.

fried striped jack

fried striped jack

 

The striped jack, second preparation arrived. The fish had been deep fried and was served with mushroom and agedashi mochi. There was no part of this fish that wasn’t consumed. We ate it all including the tail, backbone, fins and eye balls.

grilled rice broth with salmon

grilled rice in broth with salmon

 

After a great meal, we wanted a bit of carbs and went for the grilled rice ball in broth. The broth reminded me of tea and I loved all the seaweed. I don’t normally like cooked salmon but this was done very well. It was just the right note to end the meal.

I can’t wait to go back to try their omakase and partake of their enormous sake collection. But I might actually head to the Vegas location soon!

Aburiya Raku

521 N La Cienega Blvd., West Hollywood, CA 90048  —  (213) 308-9393
 
© The Minty 2016
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