The first thought you get when walking into the venue is sophistication. The atmosphere has a calming and comforting feel incorporated with a traditional, yet modern Japanese style fit out. Bring a piece of Tokyo to Canberra is what the cultured restaurant succeeds in – especially with the traditional influence of Japanese style elements and the extensive menu.
Nothing but the best and the freshest meat and fish is sourced and supplied from Japan and hand-picked by the chef, throughout Australia and the world. Sourced daily from their local supplier, the fish is served in the traditional sense – very clean cut and presented in a classic Japanese style, yet innovatively beautiful way.
The first dish we were served was the California Maki Rolls. The generous amount of slow-cooked Spanner Crab within the rolls is sourced from Queensland and combined with the crunch of the cucumber and fresh softness of the avocado, topped off with tobiko, made for an aesthetically pleasing and mouth watering dish.
Next, we were served the smoky Teriyaki King Salmon from New Zealand with pickled white radish on the side. This dish was like heaven on a plate. The way the salmon glided so easily into the chopsticks told us that the fish was cooked perfectly and with amazing flavour. The whole experience acts on your senses – the texture, colours and flavours, especially the taste of the caramelized smokiness from the traditional Japanese cooking method ‘robatayaki’ (slow grilled cooking over hot charcoal) that RAKU specializes in for the Canberra dining scene to keep everything authentic and bring a piece of Tokyo to the Capital.
The next dish that was excitedly put in front of us was the Chef’s five varieties Selection of Sashimi that was presented in the most unbelievable way in a large Japanese handmade bowl that was filled to the brim with ice and topped with freshly cut kingfish, salmon, Yellowfin tuna, honey bug and Japanese scallop. This dish was by far a standout for us, with elements that only the finest chef could think about putting together in a sashimi tasting dish like this.
One of RAKU’s signature dishes is the Alaskan Black Cod (Gindara Saikyo Yaki) and this was plated up next and fresh for us to taste. Combined with saikyo miso and pickled cauliflower made for a very well deserving signature dish. The blackness of the exterior of the cod contrasted to the beautifully flaky white interior made the dish a delectable delight.
The Chef’s Selection of the nine-piece Nagiri plate ignited our inner appreciation and love for fresh fish with the combination of rice. The elongated platter included salmon, Otoro, also known as Bluefin tuna belly, honey bug and traditional Otoro Bluefin tuna. The freshness and presentation was impeccable, melted in your mouth, and oh so satisfying.
For something a little different, we were served the Salmon Tarutaru. This tartar was paired with yuzu miso and squid ink crackers that gave the whole dish an innovative and interesting feel. The crunchiness of the crackers, combined with the texture of the tartar made for a perfect mixture of textures.
Overwhelmed with our array of food, our last savoury dish we accepted graciously was the Uchiwa Ebi – West Australian honey bug with foie gras and drizzled with the popular and sought after oil, that is, truffle oil. This dish was the perfect end to our aromatic, savoury dining experience.
After much munching on the delicious dishes, The Zen Stone was the final plate served to us, and was the cherry on top of the cake. This signature dessert incorporates chocolate crunch, joconde, kalamansi ganache, charcoal cocoa butter, and orange chocolate mousse to make sure that fresh flavour of the mains is brought into the desserts as well to keep everything exquisitely consistent.
Share plates are the absolute way to go at RAKU, with Executive Chef, Hao Chen emphasizing that everyone’s agenda should be to try as many dishes as possible. Matching the food with the wine, spirits, and of course, Sake is a must at RAKU, with venue manager, Marcellus Heleta highlighting its importance of their fun and accessible drink options available. Japanese influence is what the venue’s philosophy stands for. Having imported beautiful interior elements from Japan into the restaurant, like the bamboo ceiling, the hand-made tiles, bowls and dishes, even to the wooden structures of the private dining booths, makes it that little bit more special and very unique and one of a kind.
The multi-purpose venue is in a prominent and popular location in Canberra and we urge you all to try it, whether you’re going for a high-end lunch meeting or an intimate sit-down dining experience with an array of dishes, or even a few casual drinks with friends at the spacious bar with a few Maki Sushi Rolls on the side – RAKU has something fresh and delicious for everyone to enjoy and appreciate.