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Sashimi at Roku

Raku – Anniversary Dinner in Las Vegas

In Destination Dining, Restaurants, West by Daryl & Mindi Hirsch16 Comments

Raku in Las Vegas serves authentic Robatayaki food. The only thing better than eating dinner at Ruku is to end the meal with dessert at nearby Sweets Raku.

Located in a strip mall two miles from the strip, Raku looks unassuming from the outside. Looks, however, can be deceiving. Raku in Las Vegas

Located in a strip mall two miles from the strip, Raku looks unassuming from the outside. Looks, however, can be deceiving.

We celebrated our eighth anniversary at Raku in Las Vegas. The dinner had it all. The romance, the atmosphere, the food…

The strip mall !?

The shuffling and bustling of cars on a meandering search for parking spaces on a Friday evening at Seoul Plaza greeted us as we arrived at our anniversary dinner. We wondered if we had allowed ourselves enough time to find a space and still arrive on time for our 8:00 reservation. A moment of panic set in. Could we find a parking spot at all? Would we miss our coveted reservation at the small but popular restaurant? An air of nervousness filled our rental car.

You see, despite its Korean name and suburban atmosphere, this strip mall two miles off the strip features two of the best Japanese restaurants in the country – Raku and Raku Sweets.

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Dinner at Raku Las Vegas

Helmed by Chef Mitsuo Endo, Raku is a Robatayaki restaurant featuring meats and vegetables grilled with precision.  The centuries-old cooking method involves a large stone grill made popular on Japanese fishing boats on the northern island of Hokkaido. In recent years, the style has grown more popular throughout Japan. However, Raku’s menu features more than just grilled food.

How much more? We’re talking 10+ small courses served over three hours. And then there’s the extensive wine and sake list. We opted for a nice bottle of sake since it was our anniversary after all.

As recommended by our server, this bottle of sake complemented the many courses of our omakase meal. Raku in Las Vegas

As recommended by our server, this bottle of sake complemented the many courses of our omakase meal.

Our marathon of a meal started with a soft, silky dome of house-made tofu with a texture that evoked fresh ricotta from Italy. We were encouraged to cut the tofu by hand and sprinkle special Japanese green sea salt on the delicate curds before eating every luxurious mouthful.

House Made Tofu served with Ginger, Chives and Bonita. Raku in Las Vegas

House Made Tofu served with Ginger, Chives and Bonita

The tofu course was followed by one of the most formidable plates of sashimi we’ve eaten on this side of the Pacific Ocean. While many high-end Japanese eateries import their fish from Tokyo’s famous Tsukuji Market, Raku goes the extra mile to import fish from smaller purveyors in Southern Japan. Hey, it was our anniversary, so we splurged and ordered off the higher priced omakase menu which allowed us to sample a unique cornucopia of fresh fish including bluefin tuna, kampachi amberjack and shima aji striped jack. As an added touch, fresh chrysanthemum acted as a colorful palette cleaner.

Sashimi including Bluefin Tuna, Tuna Belly, Kampachi Amberjack and Shima Aji Striped Jack. Raku in Las Vegas

Sashimi including Bluefin Tuna, Tuna Belly, Kampachi Amberjack and Shima Aji Striped Jack

Tasting Tip: Raku offers two levels of omakase menus. With a difference of just $25 between the two, we recommend the higher priced option since it features the restaurant’s freshest, most creative dishes.

The wonder of great Japanese cuisine is in the precision. Grill chefs in Japan cook with the skill of microsurgeons serving up a number of successive courses cooked to perfection.

And perfection followed. We loved the amazing, melt in your mouth Maryland soft shell crabs sourced from Baltimore. We marveled over the grilled tomatoes that somehow managed to remain plump and explosive despite their browned bacon wrapping. And we pretty much inhaled the jarringly rich, melt in your mouth, slowly grilled beef tendon.

The courses kept coming in rapid succession: Crunchy flash fried snapper with delicate flesh and crunchy edible bones, lightly salted langoustines from Scotland that had no need for butter, skewers of duck and Kobe beef and a finale of grilled foie gras. Confession: the delicate, creamy foie may have been the weakest course – a testament to how good Raku’s food is.

Soft Shell Crab from Baltimore with Arugula Salad. Raku in Las Vegas

Soft Shell Crab from Baltimore with Arugula Salad

Tomatoes wrapped in Bacon on a Stick. Raku in Las Vegas

Tomatoes wrapped in Bacon on a Stick

Langoustines with Lime. Raku in Las Vegas

Langoustines with Lime

Kobe Beef on a Stick topped with Garlic. Raku in Las Vegas

Kobe Beef on a Stick topped with Garlic

Iberian Pork Shoulder. Raku in Las Vegas

Iberian Pork Shoulder

Duck with Sweet Soy and Orange. Raku in Las Vegas

Duck with Sweet Soy and Orange

Whole Snapper Flash Fried with King Oyster Mushrooms in a Dashi Broth. Raku in Las Vegas

Whole Snapper Flash Fried with King Oyster Mushrooms in a Dashi Broth

Non-Tasting Tip: Make sure you visit the restroom at Raku. The high-tech, multi-function

, are one of the things that we loved about Tokyo and shouldn’t be missed.

As we savored each small plate in our small private room, we toasted our eight years (!) of marriage as each course arrived, a tradition that we started last year at Volvér in Philadelphia and plan to continue in the future.

Raku is located at 5030 W Spring Mountain Rd #2, Las Vegas, NV 89146, United States.

We opted to only have savory courses during the omakase meal because we wanted to save room for…

Dessert at Sweets Raku Las Vegas

Located steps away in the same shopping center, Sweets Raku is a quirky restaurant that needs no name on the door, just a large silver spoon. The inside has stark white walls, much like a test kitchen, but there our dozens of bursts of color in the small, clean space, like the cheerful tea tins on the wall that line the front entrance.

Our first impression of Sweets Raku was colorful and sweet, much like the desserts. Raku in Las Vegas

Our first impression of Sweets Raku was colorful and sweet, much like the desserts.

Desserts at Sweets Raku can be ordered as a multi-course affair for $19 or on an a la carte basis. As an added treat, the menus are edible.

We sat at the bar so that we could get a front-row view of the mastery created by Chef Mio Ogaswara. Born and trained in Japan, Chef Ogaswara is a magician with a piping bag. Watching her prepare the Sunset dessert was worth the price of admission.

Chef Mio Ogasawara assembles the Sunset Dessert. Raku in Las Vegas

Chef Mio Ogasawara assembles the Sunset Dessert.

Sunset Dessert - Peach Moscato with Pie filled with Cream Cheese and Vanilla Ice Cream. Raku in Las Vegas

Sunset Dessert – Peach Moscato with Pie filled with Cream Cheese and Vanilla Ice Cream

The Mt. Exotic highlighted our dessert choices – a mango cream cake with raspberries, mango and chocolate. Chef Ogasawara extruded the spaghetti-like mango ice cream topping in front of our eager eyes.

Chef Mio Ogasawara assembles the Mt. Exotic Dessert. Raku in Las Vegas

Chef Mio Ogasawara assembles the Mt. Exotic Dessert.

Mt. Exotic Dessert - Mango Cream Cake with Homemade Pie Crust, Raspberries, Mango Pieces and Chocolate. Raku in Las Vegas

Mt. Exotic Dessert – Mango Cream Cake with Homemade Pie Crust, Raspberries, Mango Pieces and Chocolate

Bursting at the seams, we were so done with food. But then the chef surprised us with a few final sweet bites – chocolate truffles and macarons, a perfect ending to a perfect anniversary dinner. How could we say no?

Bonus Desserts - Chocolate Truffles and Vanilla Macaron with Honey. Raku in Las Vegas

Bonus Desserts – Chocolate Truffles and Vanilla Macaron with Honey

Sweets Raku is located at 5040 W Spring Mountain Rd #3, Las Vegas, NV 89146, United States.

The only negative thing about our anniversary dinner at Raku is that the gauntlet has been thrown so forcefully that it will be difficult to exceed, much less match, the experience for next year’s anniversary dinner. Luckily, this is a challenge that we are happy to accept.


Hungry for more? Check out our Las Vegas Food Guide for more great food and drink options off the strip.


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Raku in Las Vegas Nevada is one of the best Japanese restaurants in the United States. The only thing better than dinner at Ruku is to end the meal with dessert at nearby Sweets Raku.

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Comments

  1. That whole blog post was mouth watering. I don’t think I’ve ever had bacon or tomatoes at a Japanese restaurant. The pictures were so good.

    Happy Anniversary!

  2. I did not know that this small Las Vegas based restaurant was deemed one of the best in the country. I’m not that adventurous with my seafood (at all), so the kobe beef topped with garlic piqued my interest the most. The desserts look to die for – especially that honey-filled macaroon – and bonus desserts are always a plus. Seems like they definitely want to send you off with a good impression – no wonder it’s rated so highly.

  3. The photos are amazing. I really love doing something special for romantic date nights. Wish I lived closer to this restaurant. It looks like a keeper! From the appetizer through to the dessert, it all looks wonderful.

  4. The food looks great but did you say a strip mall. When I think of strip mall I don’t think of food that looks this good lol.

  5. OMG – that looked so amazing I want to fly back to Vegas to have it NOW!! Thanks for sharing and congrats on 8 years!

  6. The tofu sounds intriguing, and the desserts are so beautiful! The colors of the Mt. Exotic dessert are a feast for the eyes.

  7. your pictures are always so beautiful… i feel like i can taste these bits of deliciousness through the screen!

  8. happy anniversary! i love raku! we used to live in Vegas, and can’t wait to go back to eat there. 🙂

  9. All of this food looks great and now I am hungry. I would love to visit someday and try this place out. This would be a great place for an anniversary or birthday dinner. Hopefully we will get out there soon to visit and we will definitely check this place out!

  10. I haven’t been to Vegas in almost 10 years, but now I know where to go when my husband and I finally get out there! I love Japanese food and the artistry in these dishes is beautiful. I bet it tastes amazing too.

  11. What a fun way to spend you anniversary! Each picture is beautiful and makes me wish I was there! Now if only I could get my hubby on board for some sushi! I am all in!

  12. Yummmm I’m so hungry right now! I love how Vegas restaurants are pretty amazing, I have to say. Next time I’m there, I’ll be checking Raku out for sure! Beautiful pics!

  13. It sounds like you had a wonderful anniversary dinner! You describe the food so beautiful and your pictures are amazing! I don’t make it to Las Vegas very often but now I know where to eat next time we go!

  14. I am not a huge sushi person but these pictures and this restaurant look absolutely amazing. The fish looks super fresh and it looks like you had great drinks and a great meal. I frequent Vegas and hadn’t heard of this spot, but I am glad you had an excellent anniversary dinner!

  15. Oh my! Raku looks like an amazing location for an anniversary dinner! I am personally in love with Sushi so this is right up my alley. Next time I am in Las Vegas I am sure to try Raku. Thanks so much for the recommendation!

  16. I’ve never heard of Raku before but it looks out of this world! My son is huge on eastern cuisine, especially sushi, so he would probably love this place too! Thank you for sharing! 🙂

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