We visited Raku in 2018 and it made our list of best restaurants for that year. When our foodie crew opted to go to Canberra, our only request was that we wanted to return to Raku. It is a sleek and contemporary fine dining Japanese restaurant with an extensive ala carte menu, as well as a tasting menu.
The restaurant is located in the main CBD precinct near the Civic shopping centre and thus was easy to locate. The space is large with table seating or right up at the chefs kitchen as well private dining spaces.
You can watch the chefs prepare the meats on the grill over the flame and it is mesmerising. Otherwise there’s small tables or booths, it is dimly lit and has a romantic feel to it. The ambience is cool and sophisticated, but not at all arrogant and you can certainly feel comfortable dining here.
We learn that Raku is named after a Japanese style of pottery (fired in open flames), which is apt for a Robata style restaurant. Secondly, the ceramics here were absolutely beautiful and demonstrated different designs and techniques. Cooking wise, the robata method enables the flavour of the flame to shine through the meat, seafood and vegetables and the blue eyed cod has to be one of the best things we’ve ever ordered. The Gindara saikyo yaki Alaskan black cod came with a saikyo miso w pickled cauliflower. The Smokey flavour was beautiful and it was so soft and melted in your mouth.
The Ala Carte menu has so many options; from raw seafood to salads, hot dishes, tempura, maki rolls, sushi nigiri, signature dishes and robatayaki seafood, meat and veg, there is sure to be something to take your fancy. We opted for the picture perfect Hotate truffle Hokkaido scallop flavoured with truffle and ponzu as well as a beautiful maki roll filled with Spicy maguro South Australian raw tuna, Sriracha, tenkatsu, chives, takuan, cabbage. The tenkatsu crisp provided a nice crunch to the sushi.
For the other two in our dining party, they ate the Hao san’s tasting menu, which for $80 each is super reasonable since the ala carte diners ended up spending more than this. We do like that the restaurant enabled our dining party to have ala carte or the tasting menu (though tasting menu needs to be at least 2 people).
A tasting menu is great way to do things for it enables you to experience a good range of their signature dishes.
It begins with their signature Merimbula rock oysters topped with cucumber, tosazu. A light and refreshing start to the tasting.
One of the favourites was the Tasmanian salmon tartar w yuzu miso & squid ink cracker that was simply stunning in both flavour and presentation.
Followed up by some of the best Sashimi around; salmon, kingfish and scallop as well as 2 pieces each of the Chef’s selection nigiri; Aburi salmon and tuna.
Then came the lightly fried Tempura Zucchini flowers, which were beautifully done, filled with feta, goma, tofu paste and a side of dashi broth.
For the main part of the tasting menu, it was an 150-day grain fed Scotch fillet, perfectly cooked medium and sliced thinly served with wasabi sour cream and a rhubarb salt. This came with a nice cup of white miso dashi w tofu, wakame & spring onion.
To also accompany the main was a light Heirloom tomato salad, fried quinoa, honey soy, spicy tofu creme.
We were keen for the Wagyu gyoza w truffle oil, white ponzu, mustard seed and had been talking about this well before our visit l. So when the dessert arrived we were disappointed the gyoza hadn’t come. When enquiring, they had simply forgotten, so lucky we knew the menu. They were worth the wait.
The tasting menu comes with a Toasted sesame ice cream w caramelised almonds sticky miso caramel, matcha wafer which did sound delightful, though being at whisky fans, we asked your we could swap out the desert for their whisky option. We are so happy they obliged.
The dessert was a Japanese whisky chocolate fondant oozing with chocolate and a sticky miso caramel paired with Nikka ‘from the barrel’ ice cream. This is a whiskey lovers dream.
Drinks wise, they have some solid cocktails with Japanese flavours, sake, beers and wines and ask for the waiters suggestion to match your meal.
They also have an express $40 lunch option which sounds like a good deal too.
We love Raku restaurant and this is enough of a reason to plan a visit to Canberra.
148 Bunda Street
Canberra ACT 2601
Open daily 11am – 1pm
Evenings 6pm – 11pm