Bonito Guts Pickled in Salt

It took us forever just to find the place. It was midnight, and according to the gps on my dying iphone, we had reached our destination.  But the restaurant was nowhere in sight. I was pulling into a strip mall to turn around, when Amy cried out “Hey that says Raku! There it is!” We had heard that the place was small, but this was tiny. There was maybe enough room in the place for twenty people; very simple, nothing fancy. We sat down and ordered some hot tea, and a nice Japanese lady brought us the menus. The first thing on the menu that caught my attention was an item called: Seafood with Bonito Guts Pickled in Salt. Then I saw something called: Simmered Meat Intestine in Simple Soup. Hmm. Luckily, I wasn’t really hungry. I had eaten a big waffle a few hours earlier. I decided on something simple; seaweed soup and noodles with veggies. Amy got the tofu version of a caprese salad, and a bowl of rice with salmon roe on top. Amy’s salad came first. The tofu, tomato and basil were placed neatly on the plate, completely covered by a fourth ingredient that looked suspiciously like a bunch of worms. We sat and stared at it for awhile. Then we took pictures. Then we asked the waitress what it was. She told us they were little sardines. Amy sighed in relief.
My seaweed soup was next to arrive. Two pieces of very thick seaweed were tied in knots, sitting in a small bowl of broth. It was good. So was Amy’s salad, and the rest of the food we ordered. We enjoyed our meal, but the truth was, we had really gone to Raku for the dessert. Our mouths were watering for some of their green tea creme brulee. It was good. Really good. Now we were totally stuffed. We both had to go to the bathroom and then we were going to leave. Amy went to the bathroom first, and came back smiling. There was a stepping-stone-set-in-astroturf walkway leading up to the bathroom. The inside was a sanctuary. Sort of. There was a spray painted cement tree on one of the walls and surround sound bird chirping noise. It sounds awful, but it was great. That bathroom made my whole day. Now I was ready to go and write my story for the next morning. I left the bathroom with a huge grin on my face. When I got back to the table, Amy was talking to some guy.
His name was Jin, and he was a sous chef at a upscale restaurant in Vegas. He asked us what we had ordered, and when we answered, he made a stink face, and came and sat at our table. The waitress came over, and Jin ordered about eight different dishes. Some of the things he asked for weren’t even on the menu. We were definitely not going to eat any more food. I had to go write my blog. We had already eaten dinner. And dessert. We were just curious…
Jin told us that last year, Raku had been nominated for the James Beard award for best new restaurant in the world. The owner/ main chef had built it himself. His home made tofu was world famous, and chefs from all over would come to Raku to eat and to learn from him. He showed us the green tea salt that had been sitting at our table the whole time we were there, and the home made soy sauce. We sat with our mouths open as dish after amazing dish was brought to our table. I ate pork cheek, fried tofu, noodles, chicken sausage on a stick, chicken soup, and salmon with rice. I was amazed at how much room I had in my stomach. I could have kept eating. We were the last customers there. Raku normally closes at three in the morning. We didn’t leave until four. Amy and I were in a daze the rest of the way back to our hotel. I know we made it to our room, and into our beds, and I know we both kept saying “wow.” I don’t remember much after that.


5 thoughts on “Bonito Guts Pickled in Salt

  1. You were in Vegas?? Lucky! Will have to check it out next time we are out there. Tell your mom we saw the BIO show of Pee-Wee Herman with her and your aunt in it, way cool!


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