For a long time now Australia has been enjoying a love affair with Japanese food. The sleek service, respect for ingredients and simplicity of every dish has influenced much of the food we would classify as ‘modern Australian cuisine’. Nevertheless, classic Japanese cuisine still exists as a strong presence in our culinary landscape and it is restaurants like Canberra’s Raku that have held it in such good stead.
Combining the precision and artistry of Japanese techniques with the face-paced energy of modern Australian dining, Raku brings a decadent experience to Canberra. At the helm is the owner and Head Chef, Hao Chen. With 25 years of experience as a sushi chef, Hao is a master of the sushi blade. His extensive knowledge in conjunction with a great passion for what he does allows for an unparalleled calibre of cuisine to come to life in the Raku kitchen.
Over the years, Hao has developed a food philosophy that focuses on the notions of simplicity and balance, and it is with these two pillars in mind that he created Raku. Like any great Japanese chef, he allows for the quality of the produce and purpose of each technique to shine through in every dish. His menu is extensive and features all the Japanese classics you could hope for. Meticulously prepared plates of nigiri, sashimi and maki star alongside decadent dishes of Nasu Dengaku, deep-fried eggplant with black and tama miso, Popcorn Shrimp with chilli mayonnaise, and Duck Fat Confit Chicken Wings with smoked miso butter. The flavours sing while that quintessential element of Japanese theatre is a constant presence.
When it comes to drinks, you would be a fool to pass on the sake. As you would image, Raku has a refined selection of some of the best Japanese sakes you can get your hands on as well as beautiful Japanese whiskies, some fun cocktails and a selection of mostly Japanese beers, both on tap and in bottles. The wine list looks to local Canberra region wineries, big-name and boutique Australian wines and a sprinkling of international drops to make up the succinct but well-thought-out selection.
The design is as sleek and sophisticated as you would imagine. To match the beautiful plates leaving the kitchen, Hao has ensured that the utmost care and precision has gone into both food and setting. The concrete is polished, the lights are dim and the blonde wood tables sit in neat rows underneath the bamboo stick lined ceiling.
Dining at Raku is a true experience. Every element of the restaurant has been realised with care and creativity. The food is as breathtakingly beautiful as it is delicious and Hao has clearly created the restaurant with his guests at the forefront of his thoughts. Every visit is made to be memorable and no stone is left unturned.