Fantastic Japanese Tapas (Izakaya) hits West Hollywood - Aburiya RAKU - pictures

How late do they stay open?

They stay open until 2:00 a.m. Mon - Sat, which is pretty sweet. :slight_smile:

Cool! That’s a great late night dining option.

The noodles with the foie chawanmushi looks a lot like Inawa Udon than it does soba.

Can’t wait to try this place (and a few others) in a few weeks!!! :grinning:

Hi @beefnoguy / kk,

Can’t wait to see what you think of this place, and to try out their solid Sake menu! Lots of selection (which is appreciated).

Update 3:

With the holiday weekend, more friends were visiting and they requested Raku. Which was fine by me. :slight_smile:

Began with a Flight of Sake to try out a few menu options - Hana no Mai Junmai Daiginjo Sake - Shizuoka, Japan | Amabuki Junmai Ginjo - Saga, Japan | Tsukasa Botan Senchu Hassaku Tokubetsu Junmai - Kochi, Japan:

The Hana no Mai was the driest of the 3, crisp and clean. The Amabuki had the longest finish, a bit astringent but interesting and sweet, as it was made with Strawberry Yeast. The Senchu Hassaku was also dry, but not as dry and crisp as the Hana no Mai.

Oyaji Tofu (Homemade Tofu with a side of Chili Garlic Sauce and Japanese Mustard Greens):

After mixing all the ingredients together, this was a fantastic third way to enjoy Aburiya Raku’s Homemade Tofu. It’s really fresh, lightly spicy (not too much) and the Japanese Mustard Greens really makes this dish, giving it an interesting spring-like aspect.

Kegani - Japanese Hairy Crab - Hokkaido, Japan:

This was a nice surprise! They managed to get in some fresh Kegani from Hokkaido. And it was clean, slightly sweet from the fresh Crab meat and their pairing with a special Dashi dipping sauce made it more enjoyable than the Kegani I had at Shunji’s last time. :slight_smile:

Tairagai - Pen Shell Clam - Aichi, Japan:

OK, at some point it becomes pretty mind-boggling and absurd: For an Aburiya / Izakaya, Raku is delivering some of the best Sashimi around! The Tairagai is fantastic! It’s delicate, but has a meatiness, and it’s SO fresh and bright. My friends from out-of-town were demanding we order another plate immediately LOL. Fantastic Pen Shell Clam! :heart:

One of the best bites of the evening. :slight_smile:

I also really appreciate their condiments with their rotating / fresh Sashimi each night: Some Wasabi, Pickled Chrysanthemum, and Yuzu Kosho.

Ken Salad (Arugula Salad, Chicken Breast, Pine Nuts, Grilled Corn, Sun Dried Tomatoes, Fried Chicken Skin, Wakame Seaweed):

As good as the last time, a fantastic Salad that is savory and really robust: They use their famous Asajjime Chicken, and the Pine Nuts and Grilled Corn add that fragrant sweetness and nuttiness. The Fried Chicken Skin is crispy and crunchy adding a touch of that decadent happiness to each bite, only to be balanced by the Wakame Seaweed (nice and refreshing)). :slight_smile:

Mizu Tako Age - Fried Mizu Octopus - Hokkaido, Japan:

This was the one hiccup tonight: The breading on this Fried Mizu Octopus was too soggy. The actual Octopus was thankfully less chewy than the raw one we had Mori (the lone hiccup there as well), with a slight chew but tender and fresh otherwise.

Next began our Yakitori courses:

Asajime Chicken Thigh (Skewer):

As great as before, Raku’s Cage-Free, All-Natural, Dispatched on the Same Day Asajime Chicken is moist, juicy and has a real, fantastic poultry taste! :slight_smile:

Asajime Chicken Breast Wrapped with Chicken Skin:

One of the rare cases where the white meat is even better and more flavorful than the dark meat, with the outer crispy Chicken Skin wrapping their amazing Asajime Chicken Breast elevating the whole dish.

Duck with Balsamic Soy Sauce:

Tender, slightly gamy and delicious Duck Skewer.

Pork Intestine Skewer:

Outrageously good! :slight_smile: I don’t usually eat much offal, but Raku’s Yakitori chefs have created this skewer of pure awesome: Crispy on the outside, soft, luscious and juicy on the inside, without any pungency associated with Intestine at times. Paging @theoffalo. :slight_smile:

Kobe Beef Tendon (from Oregon):

Another highlight (again). Crisped outside, with a creamy, soft, tender inside. My friends demanded another skewer, LOL. :slight_smile:

Crispy Asparagus Okaki:

This was a great dish. Asparagus fried with an outer, crunchy crust. It was delicious, the nice balance of fresh Asparagus with a crunchy batter exterior.

Tama no Hikari Junmai Daiginjo Sake - Kyoto, Japan:

In the interesting Sake pairing discussion on the Mori thread, I ran across an amazing Sake pairing tonight: Kyoto’s excellent Tama no Hikari Sake, which is aromatic and slightly sweet with a medium crisp finish, with…

Juicy Deep-Fried Asajime Chicken:

Their version of “Karaage” (Japanese Fried Chicken), where the outside “roll” of Cage-Free Chicken is deep fried, while the inside is juicy and so fresh and savory, it’s already delicious by itself, but with the Tama no Hikari Sake it was PERFECT. :slight_smile: Wow! So good.

Portabello Mushroom Stuffed Asajime Ground Chicken:

Serious burst of umami flavor from the Portobello Mushroom and the Ground Asajime Chicken (well seasoned, savory and not overcooked).

Foie Gras with Glazed Soy-based Sauce:

And since @A5KOBE recommended this as one of the best bites of 2016 I had to try…

Thank You @A5KOBE! :smile:

This is a perfect piece of Foie Gras, buttery, rich, delicious, lush, and the Soy Sauce Glaze is a great match. Fantastic! :blush:

Fluffy Cheesecake:

This was recommended, and it did not disappoint: It was indeed very fluffy, light, and so delicious! :slight_smile: A great dessert to finish things off.

Mandarin Orange Sorbet:

But their Mandarin Orange Sorbet was even more amazing: Really fresh Mandarin Orange juice (freshly squeezed) and they add it over ice, so more like a fun Japanese Shaved Ice Kakigori treat than it was a “Sorbet,” but so good, nonetheless! :slight_smile: It was sunny, sweet, and a bowl of iced happiness. :blush:

Aburiya Raku
521 N. La Cienega Blvd.
West Hollywood, CA 90048
Tel: (213) 308-9393


Wow that crab and clam look great. I hope it’s still on the menu when I’m there in a couple weeks.

What a wonderful meal. Izakayas tend to be viewed as modest eateries, but the standard for seafood is high in Japan. Moreover, the levels of izakaya varies due to the spending power of the different levels of spending that different people have in Japan - duh! :smiley:

AR is obviously one of the more spendy-type of izakaya, and that’s a good thing. They are another example of how high the curve can be in Japanese cuisine. It’s not that all food in Japan is at this level, but vis-a-vis to the the US, the standard is appreciatively higher. My hope is that it nudges the curve higher here. Nice job dear sir.

Great pictures and reviews @Chowseeker1999!

Aburiya Raku has a very solid sake lineup. Some of the markup is a touch high and a few are reasonable enough that even for under $100 you can drink a $40 retail bottle without worrying too much.

They do have a bottle (and/or empty box) on display that is not for sale. Notably the bottle in the middle whose name I forgot how to pronounce, and a box of Dassai Beyond on the right. I believe manager Shige-san said something to the effect of they were gifts from possibly the grand opening.

Interesting how the Junmai Daiginjo was the dryest of the three, considering the Tsukasa Botan is labeled a “Super Dry” (Cho Karakuchi). The Amabuki Strawberry is a great fruit forward nama (unpasteurized) sake and drinks best when chilled, also with salty grilled foods. It should also be extremely fun to drink this with a citrus/tart dessert, like their house made strawberry sorbet (or even a strawberry panna cotta, or light strawberry cheesecake).

They didn’t have kegani on my visit a week ago. But they had three different kinds of fish fresh enough for sashimi or salt grilled. The ko-aji was on offer for only a bargain of $15, so we got it as sashimi and the skeleton deep fried

Chef Matt took it a step further and had a portion of the body made into namerou (minced aji mixed with miso, scallions, a little ginger). He sliced the aji very thin and texture wise was super interesting. Obviously, he’s not Japanese but he worked at Raku Las Vegas for at least three years and has experience in other kitchens…the guy is great, fun to chat with and he has a lot going for him.

Tama No Hikari is a very very good sake, probably one of the first early bottles I’ve tried, and if you can find it retail (~$30 to $40) it’s more enjoyable (to me) than Dassai 50, and goes well with pretty much any Japanese cuisine.

That night, I had the Tedorigawa Kinka nama (unpasteurized) Daiginjo. I want to say this was the best price to performance (and relatively better markup from known retail) bottle there, out of the entire Junmai Daiginjo and Daiginjo lineup, for under a hundy.

Agreed, the pork intestine skewer and the beef tendon skewer were some of the best bites of the entire evening!


Hi @beefnoguy K K,

Thanks for the great info again. :slight_smile: You got Ko-Aji for only $15?! That’s a bargain and it looks delicious.

Yah I think Chef Matt is pretty talented (a protege of Chef Mitsuo Endo). All the courses we’ve had prepared by him have been top notch.

And I totally agree! I thought the Tama no Hikari was more enjoyable than the Dassai 50 I had last year.

How was the Tedorigawa Kinka in terms of flavor? For a Nama Daiginjo was it more robust / sweet, or dry?

It is preternatural to see a non-Japanese chef doing what he does. And one who has never visited Japan, for that matter.

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Tedorigawa Kinka is quite robust, aromatic on the nose, and full bodied in flavor for a nama daiginjo, goes down smooth with enoughdryness to round it off, with multiple fruit tones and some honey elements (all in a great way). It went great with pretty much everything we ordered and out performed the far more expensive Dassai 23 Centrifuge “New Year’s Eve” seasonal nama which had sediment added in on purpose but fell pretty flat with no character or texture (it tasted like the Dassai Nigori but less sweet and cloudy).

The other Junmai Daiginjo/Daiginjo sakes I think that would work great at Raku would be something like the Masumi Yumedono (Mansion of Dreams) Daiginjo, which was my backup choice (Yumedono actually goes very well with an excellent Vietnamese bun rieu of all things, perhaps a combination of the tartness from a tomato based broth and the natural flavors of good crab), and the “Ken” (The Sword) Daiginjo for sure though the pricing on that one is much higher in relation to retail.

For Junmai Ginjo, I would recommend trying Shime Haritsuru “Jun” at Raku, solid performer from Niigata Prefecture, so if you like Koshi No Kanbai and the classic Niigata sake profile, this is a solid choice.

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I must say though, the quality of the ko-aji was splendid that night, and Chef Matt’s knife work on the aji slices was in the vein of thinly sliced hirame (but not quite), and it worked so darn well, particularly the end result (mouthfeel and texture). I’ve had many aji tataki/sashimi in my time, but this was one of the most visually pleasing, and elegant tasting preps I’ve had in years. Some of the preps I’ve had by other Japanese sushi chefs in Northern California (for aji sashimi) have been very forgettable to “tried/true/lazy” (for those stubborn rude or unfriendly chefs, or friendly to everyone else but you types) in terms of presentation, layout, knifework, texture etc.

Definitely taught well, and well learned.

And he likes sake, good man.


I assumed that he grew up in Japan when I first noticed his handling of fish - kind of floored me to find out he’s never been.

The Force is strong with this one.

Once again, your pictures and descriptions make the dishes seem special, delicious and accessible at the same time.


Great info again, thanks! :slight_smile:

How does the Tedorigawa Kinka compare with Ken Daiginjo? I’ve had Ken Daiginjo multiple times (very solid), so this would be good to know. Thanks.

@TheCookie thanks! Keep up the great reporting. :slight_smile:

They are both great bottles in their own right and are meant to go with izakaya fare (actually most sakes work, some work far better than others and these two I really like). For me there’s something great about the way Kinka does when consuming with the grilled skewers that have that wonderous tare/sauce with it (e.g. the tsukune and pork intestines). But everyone might taste different things for the same sake, especially what you eat with. I’d say try the Kinka next time you are at Raku, it’s cheaper too. Plus you can get it by the glass if you cannot down a whole bottle. You can even sip some Kinka alongside the Mandarin orange sorbet (and it’s super fun doing that too).

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Another great dinner at Raku, unfortunately they didn’t have the crab and clams that @Chowseeker1999 ordered. However, I did order the following off the specials menu: sea bream two ways (sashimi and fried), kobe filet, chicken liver, iberico pork, and a bowl of uni.


Ken salad

Sea bream sashimi

Agedashi tofu

Chicken thigh

Chicken wing

Chicken breast wrapped with skin

Pork cheek

Fried sea bream


Iberico pork

Foie gras custard

Bowl of uni, just because

Kobe filet, so hot al gore is using it as evidence for global warming

Green tea soba

Fluffy cheesecake


is it just me or does that chicken thigh look raw?