Japanese · Restaurants · Seafood · Special Occasion · Vegas

Vegas 2020 – Raku Japanese Charcoal Grill

My friend Ms. Biz highly recommended Raku for my birthday dinner. This was my favourite restaurant on our trip. If I could only go to one restaurant in Vegas, Raku would be it for me. For this post, let’s listen to “You Might Think” by The Cars.

I told Beep Beep I didn’t want any alcohol with this dinner because I wanted to focus on the food. I’m becoming my father. Ludwig won’t drink if he’s listening to classical music because he needs his full concentration. For beverages, we ordered Hoji Tea ($2.50).

tofu

To start, we shared the Half Tofu ($4). The consistency of the homemade tofu was like a ultra creamy cheesecake. We were instructed to cut into the tofu and taste it using two types of seasoning.

marcha

The first approach was to dust the green matcha salt over the cold tofu, along with the condiments of bonito flakes, chives and grated ginger. This style accented the fluffy texture and clean taste of the tofu.

tofu soy

The second version was to add Raku’s specially made soy sauce. I preferred this style because the sauce was unique in flavour and I enjoyed the thick consistency of the sauce paired with the ginger.

enoki 1

My favourite bite of the night was the Enoki Mushroom Bacon ($3.50). In fact, I loved it so much, we ordered a second one at the end of our meal. Two things stood out for me. Flavour and texture.

enoki 2

I enjoyed  crunching into this bundle of love. The mushrooms took on all the smoky flavours from charcoal grill. The bacon bound all the mushroom threads together and provided a salty omph.

scallop

The Butter Sauteed Scallop Soy Sauce ($7) was perfectly seared. The exterior of the scallop was hot and crispy. The center of the scallop was cooler in temperature and still silky smooth.

beef

The Kobe Beef Outside Skirt Steak ($8) was served warm. The meat was flavourful and fell apart like a filet of fish. The steak was chewy and juicy.

tendon

The Kobe Beef Tendon ($4) was my second favourite bite of the night. The tendon was soft and sticky. Like the enoki wrapped bacon, the tendon took on the flavour of the charcoal. I’d order this again.

foie gras

The flavour of the Foie Gras ($19) was subtle. For foie gras, I found it was light and clean. I enjoyed this dish but I prefer the heavier, richer, smokier flavours of the tendon and enoki mushroom.

shrimp

For the Crispy Fried Shrimp ($7), I didn’t add any other seasoning or sauce because I preferred the simple, natural taste of the shrimp. I could taste the sweet juice of the whole shrimp.

shrimp 1

This is one restaurant that deserves its hype. I’m already planning another trip to Vegas. I’m eager to return to Raku and based on lovegastrogirl baller recommendations, I want to check out Carbone and the Vegas Golden Knights.

ill

Thank you Beep Beep for treating me to a food and booze fueled trip! You started my birthday week with a bang. Beep Beep!

 

Raku Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Cheap Eats · Comfort food · Curry · Fusion · Happy Hour · Japanese · Restaurants · Sushi

Redheads

My husband and I dine at Redheads every week. Recently, Redheads started to offer Japanese tapas. We’ve only gotten through half the menu. What I like about the tapas menu is we can try so many different items but not feel stuffed.

The mini seaweed ($2.50) was a generous quantity for the price. I like the silky strands and the taste of the sea. The seasoning was a good balance of salty, sweet, and sour.

The Avocado with Seaweed ($5.00) is more appropriate for hardcore foodies. The plum sauce was mouth puckering sour. I thought it was delightful, but this dish wouldn’t be for everyone.

The Chicken with Fresh Vegetables ($6.00) was one of my favourite dishes. The zucchini tasted like it was plucked from a garden. The chicken was crispy and covered in a sweet and sour sauce that didn’t taste like it was from a bottle.

The Chikuzen-ni ($5.00) is a dish I can eat without guilt. The simmered root vegetables were soft and comforting. The chicken was well-marinated in a soy based marinade.

We tried the Salmon Grilled Yuan ($3.00) and the Salmon Nanban Marine ($3.50). L preferred the grilled salmon while I enjoyed the nanban a bit more because it was fried and sat in a sweet vinegar.

Another winner was the Japanese Chunky Miso Soup ($4.00). The broth was hot and tasty. The pork and veggies were plentiful and hearty.

We each tried Temari Sushi ($4). Each plate contained a piece of salmon, tuna and ebi. The rice was shaped like a large marble and well-seasoned.

After all this, we were still peckish. We shared a Mini Katsu Curry ($6.00). On top of a bed of steaming rice were five small pieces of fried pork. The beef curry was dark and rich. Just how I like my coffee.

Our group from our last trip to Japan wants to get together again. I’m going to see if they would like to rent out Redheads for an evening of Japanese comfort food.

Redheads Japa Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Japanese · Restaurants

Kissa Tanto and Kingyo Izakaya

On Friday night, I met up with my friend Naomi and her sister Gisele for drinks at Kissa Tanto in Chinatown. Naomi told me it took her two weeks to get a reservation. Apparently Kissa Tanto has a solid reputation for its creative food and cocktails.  There were also enough vegetarian options on the menu to satisfy Naomi and Gisele vegetarian diet.

I love Kissa Tanto’s retro decor. It has a distinctly 70’s vibe to it that makes it feel like you’re dining in another era. The old building itself is old school. It has a small landing and the steep stairs up to the restaurant. The street itself didn’t seem to change much from my childhood memories of Chinatown in the 1980s.

Naomi and Gisele ordered specialty cocktails, chosen by our server based on their preferences. I ordered an Asahi beer because I wanted to ease into drinking again.

I had to leave shortly after we arrived to make it to Beep Beep’s family dinner at Kingyo for a birthday dinner. However, Naomi ordered one dish for me to taste – croquette ($7). The croquette was typical – crunchy exterior with a super smooth potato and parmesan filling. I’d like to return on my next visit to give it a spin.

I grew up with Beep Beep and her family would take me out for dinner at least once a week. Kingyo is one of our regular spots for celebrations. Her family knows how to order, particularly at Japanese restaurants.

We started off with the seared tuna ($12.80). The tuna in particular tasted super fresh. The pea shoots, cherry tomatoes and crunchy tobiko rounded out this salad.

The one-grilled kobe beef ($24) was neat. You seared the marinated beef on the stone to lightly grill it. The beef was very tender and flavourful.

Beep Beep’s husband Mars doesn’t eat seafood or mushrooms, which really limits what he can eat at any Chinese or Japanese restaurant. He ordered two plates of the chicken karrage ($9.40) for himself. The karage here is solid – crispy boneless chicken served with salt. Good but not as great as Shokunin’s version in Calgary.

Mars could eat the Chinese sweetened balsamic beef rib ($22). The rib meat was soft and fatty (in a good way), sweet from the balsamic vinaigrette. Mar’s liked the presentation, which I thought was pretty standard for Chinese restaurants. Edith offered the last piece to Mars, but he complained it was all fat. Edith chided him and said that fat has all the flavour. She’s right.

I also enjoy the fresh sashimi salad ($12.80). The tuna in particular tasted super fresh. The organic greens were tossed in light garlic soy sauce vinaigrette that went well with the sashimi.

I enjoyed the aonori calamari ($9.40), which didn’t look impressive. However, Kingyo’s version was killer due to the seasoning of dried seaweed powder and the tartar sauce with shiso herb salsa. I accidentally deleted my photo of the calamari.

My favourite dishes were the negitoro sushi and pressed sushi ($14). If you’re stuck in a land lock city like Calgary, you really appreciate the care that goes into the sushi here.

The amount of chopped tuna was generous, and the addition of the Japanese pickles, green onions, and tobiko added a refreshing element and crunch to the soft texture of the tuna. The wasabi sesame soy dressing and wasabi added a nice pop to it.

The pressed mackerel was another winner. The seared marinated mackerel was warm; the oily meat contained a whack of flavour. The sauce of mustard and soy sauce, green onion and ginger paste oil went really well with the strong taste of the fish.

I don’t normally like bibimbap as some restaurants in Calgary don’t make the bowl hot enough to make the rice crispy. That’s not the case at Kingyo. The tender pieces of pork belly sizzled beautifully in the bowl, the oils released seared into the rice.

One of my favourite dishes is the uni miso udon ($13.80). I avoided this dish for two reasons. First, I could tell it was popular one and the portion wasn’t big enough for everyone at the table. Second, I know this dish is deadly, calorie-wise. The udon noodles are covered in sea urchin and sweet miso cream sauce, topped with salmon caviar. I drooled a little as I watched everyone else lift the cream covered noodles to their mouths.

The deep-fried corn was another winner ($5.80). The corn was sweet and crunchy, drenched in soy butter.

Beep Beep’s favourite dish was a March feature – cold tofu with bread. The tofu was creamy like cream cheese. The combination of the bread and tofu reminded me of brie on a baguette. I didn’t really understand why she liked this dish so much. It was good, but I could make this at home.

Another feature dish we tried was the grilled asparagus with prosciutto, bocchini, and a sweet balsamic reduction sauce. I thought this dish was very Italian. I didn’t notice any Japanese influences. Regardless, it was a nice dish.

I had an argument recently with my in-law Dhiss. He said he loves Guu in Vancouver. I told him to try Kingyo as the food is better but he insisted Guu was the best despite not trying Kingyo. I don’t know how you can believe one restaurant is better than all else when you’ve never tried other restaurants. His loss and Kingyo’s customers gain. Kingyo is completely packed and busy every night, it doesn’t need more business from non-believers.

 

Kingyo Izakaya Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato