A few months ago, we heard that Raku had begun offering a kaiseki menu, so naturally we had to check it out for ourselves. A week before arriving in Vegas, I called the restaurant and was told that there were two kaiseki options: a 10-course menu for $100, or 15 courses for $150. I made arrangements for the 15-course menu.
We arrived just before 7 pm on the night of our reservation, and noticed that the restaurant was already packed (granted, it's not hard to fill the place when they only have ~30 covers). We were led to a private room and after making some sake selections, the procession of food began. I'll note here that throughout the night, the pacing of dishes was consistent and our server was excellent at making sure our sake and hojicha glasses were filled.
|1 - Homemade yuba with ume|
|2 - Deep-fried asparagus with rice cracker coating, tempura icefish, shima aji tartare,|
grilled duck, sun-dried tomato, steamed eggplant with ginger and bonito
|3 - Homemade tofu|
Grapeseed oil, dried anchovies, matcha salt, shiso
|4 - Blue crab miso soup|
|5 - Kombu-cured hirame sashimi, hirame liver, daikon-chili|
|6 - Santa Barbara baby abalone with kombu|
|7 - Teriyaki-style snapper, grated daikon, shishito salt|
Tempura shishito pepper, potato-corn disc
|8 - Kobe beef tataki, sansho peppers, grated rock salt|
Fried garlic chips, shaved Tokyo negi
I've never been a fan of the numbing quality of sansho peppers, but I can intellectually appreciate their inclusion in the beef dish - the lemony undertones and tingliness were quite refreshing on the tastebuds while eating the fatty tataki. Otherwise, the dish was another example of a perfectly-prepared main ingredient.
|9 - Chawan mushi, ikura and mitsuba topping|
|10 - Hokkaido scallop|
Cucumber sunomono, kombu, daikon
|11 - Fried cod, shirako, trumpet mushroom|
|12 - Quail egg shooter|
Diced salmon, yamaimo, shimeji mushrooms, okra
|13 - Kobe beef fillet, stone-cooked|
|14 - Green tea soba with tororo|
|15 - Strawberry sorbet, condensed milk|
|Aged sweet sake, whipped cream topping|
I hesitate to call this meal true kaiseki ryori, as it was unlike any of the meals I've had in Kyoto - in particular, it didn't seem as micro-seasonal as the kaiseki meals in Japan. In addition, the serviceware used at Raku was unlike any I've experienced previously, being relatively devoid of decoration. In contrast, those at the Kyoto establishments seemed much more elaborate and ornamented, stressing dishes and bowls that reflect the season. This meal was also slightly different format-wise, with heavier emphasis on meat, and without the characteristic fresh fruit (although I suppose the strawberry sorbet could count) and matcha to conclude the evening. I'd prefer to say that Raku has come up with their version of a kaiseki-inspired tasting menu, and executed it to the best of their ability. In summation, an excellent meal - I'm looking forward to another meal in the warmer months, to see for myself how Chef Endo allows the seasons to drive his craft.
5030 W. Spring Mountain Rd. #2
Las Vegas, NV 89146
Phone: (702) 367-3511