Japanese food is one of my favourite cuisines but it wasn’t until I visited Japan in 2016 that I knew just how good Japanese food can be. It’s hard to find Japanese food as good as the food I ate in Japan…. My first memory of eating Japanese food is when my mum would cook tempura for my sisters and I when we were kids. If it was one thing we didn’t go without when we were growing up, it was amazing food. My mum is an incredible cook! I still remember the crunchy coating on the outside and the delicious and fresh vegetables or fish on the inside. Mum’s combination of onion rings and grated carrots in a tempura batter was one of my favourites!
There are quite a few Japanese restaurants in Canberra but the most recent one to open is Raku. This modern, stylish restaurant is located on Bunda St in the city and it opened in September, 2017. Mr Eat Canberra and I were going to watch a movie in the city just after it opened but when we walked past we felt like we weren’t dressed up enough, so we gave it a miss. It looks very fancy!
So it had been on my ‘to eat’ list for a while and I was very happy when my mother-in-law and sister-in-law took me there for lunch to celebrate my birthday recently.
There are three areas where you can eat – at a table in the main dining area, a private booth or along the bar area near where the food is prepared. We sat on a table in the main dining area. The service was good however they didn’t have one of the local wines that we wanted off the menu. We weren’t fussed and chose another.
We chose two dishes each to share. This is how our family love to eat because we get to try a bit of everything and we all get to choose a dish.
The South Australian kingfish sashimi sliced with truffle yuzu sauce was the first dish to arrive. I love kingfish and this sashimi was so fresh and sliced perfectly. The truffle yuzu is a really nice dressing and it was a great way to start the meal. This dish is $18.
The spider crab tempura with kimchi mayonnaise arrived next. It was lightly battered, crispy and not greasy (just how a good tempura should be) the crab was rich and flavoursome. The kimchi mayo has a bit of a kick to it but it wasn’t too spicy and it went really well with the tempura crab. This dish is $19.
The duck fat confit chicken wings with smoked miso butter arrived not long after the tempura. I thought they would be crispy but they actually looked a little underdone so I was a slightly disappointed at first. But when I started eating them, I realised they were cooked to perfection and the smoked miso butter was divine. The chicken wings were boneless so you can eat the whole thing and don’t have to worry about leaving any of the meat on the bone. You get 4 in a serve for $14.
The food started arriving quickly now and the rest of the dishes were at our table straight after the next. The deep-fried eggplant with black miso, tama miso, and pine nuts was so tasty. I’ve had miso eggplant quite a few times (love it) but I’ve never had it with two types of miso. The flesh of the eggplant was cooked perfectly and it was caramelised on the top. The miso was sweet and rich but it was a little hard to cut into pieces. We managed with a spoon and chopsticks, although it may not have looked very elegant…. The eggplant is $14.
The grilled Queensland king prawns with XO butter and seasonal pickles were cooked perfectly and the meat on mine could easily be removed from the shell. I ate some of the crispy parts of the shell too! Crispy prawn heads and shell might not sound appealing but it’s really delicious, especially if it’s deep-fried. I love pickles and the ones that were served with the prawns were really good. This was the most expensive dish we had – 3 prawns for $26.
The first five dishes arrived quickly so we were beginning to wonder why the lamb short ribs with chilli miso and sweet soy hadn’t arrived. After waiting for 10-15 minutes we asked the waiter if they could check to see how long they would be. Unfortunately they hadn’t started cooking them yet but we really wanted them so we said we would wait for them to be cooked. The staff were really apologetic and started cooking them straight away.
Luckily, they were worth the wait! The tender meat fell easily from the bone and the sweet, sticky sauce was amazing and perfectly balanced. They are very moreish! This is quite a rich dish but there isn’t a lot of meat on the bone and it was good to share it between the three of us. The lamb ribs are $25.
As we stood up to leave, the waiter approached us and asked us to please wait because they had something special for us. A minute later he arrived with an amazing looking dessert and said that it was complimentary because of the mistake with the lamb ribs. How do you make a group of girls happy after they had to wait for their food? You bring them dessert! Well-played Raku! This definitely made up for the time we had to wait for the lamb ribs.
You need to try the Tosutogoma – toasted sesame ice cream with caramelised hazelnuts, sticky miso caramel and matcha wafer. It’s a perfect dessert to share and the combination of flavours and textures is incredible. It’s not too sweet and the crunch from the nuts and wafers is perfect with the creamy, smooth ice cream. It sounds interesting and different but don’t be afraid to order this dish. I can’t wait to have it again! If we would have paid for the dessert it was $17.
Raku isn’t a cheap place to eat but it’s definitely worth it and the service and the food were exceptional. I would recommend it for a special occasion or if you want to treat yourself to delicious Japanese food. They also have an $80 tasting menu. I want to try lots of their other dishes so I’m looking forward to visiting again.
Have you been to Raku yet? What’s you’re favourite cuisine?