Sherman's Food Adventures: Raisu Mama's Kitchen

Raisu Mama's Kitchen

Fresh off a delicious meal from Takenaka food truck, Mijune and I made our way to Raisu on West 4th for a dine-in tasting.  As some of you may already know, Raisu and Takenaka are related and you might notice some of the same dishes on both menus.  I've been to Raisu before and they boast some of the most beautifully plated Japanese dishes in the city.  This time around, since Mijune was around, we could tackle a larger bite out of the menu than the previous visit.

Before we got to the regular menu, we dove into the Omakase Uni Zukushi for 2 at a very reasonable $120.00.  The first course was the Uni Sashimi served with Yuzu Sake.  This was a generous portion of Peruvian uni which was sweet and fresh.  I found the yuzu sake a really nice compliment to the uni.

Next course, we were served 2 x Uni Temaki with snow crab meat, scallop, tobiko and ikura.  With all these luxurious ingredients, the rolled sushi ate very hearty.  Lots of complimentary sweetness and brininess, but the uni still made itself heard.  As you can see, the amount of rice was kept to a minimum so that the ingredients could shine.

We were each served an Uni Shooter consisting of ikura, mountain potato and quail egg with dashi ponzu truffle jelly.  This wasn't a shooter in the truest sense as you would probably choke if you took this all in one gulp.  However, it ate very well as a seafood parfait of sorts.  Fresh ingredients reigned supreme here again where the jelly was the glue that brought everything together.  Actually, the mountain potato (or yam) was sticky enough to literally bind the whole thing.

The next item was a variation of something we've had before in the Uni & Wagyu Aburi Nigiri Sushi.  Replacing the foie gras, he uni served roughly the same purpose with a sweet silkiness spiked by the taste of the sea.  Of course the wagyu practically melted in our mouths with a buttery tenderness.  The light sear on top activated the fats without cooking the meat all-the-way-through.  It was finished off with a arimasannsho-wasabi sauce that added the lightest of spice.

Normally, you would be given a choice between 2 items for the next course, but we ended up trying both for research purposes.  The Spicy Lobster Uni Cream Udon was off-the-hook!  So creamy with a definite kick, the uni afforded an appealing seafoody essence. Of course, adding a large lobster tail to the dish didn't hurt.  Standing up to the flavourful broth was chewy sanuki-style udon.

The other option in the Omakase Uni Zukushi menu other than the udon was the Uni & Snow Crab Donabe Rice with mixed mushrooms, cooked rice and raisu original dashi soup stock.  Boy, it would be a hard decision choosing between the two because this was plenty good too.  The fluffy, yet chewy rice was graced with the subtle essence of crab, the umaminess of the mushrooms (and dashi) and of course the sea-sweetness of uni.  Add in some ikura and this was a subtle flavour bomb (if that makes sense).

I will get to the dessert for this meal later as we went onto the regular menu at this point starting with the Yuzu Wings.  Nothing really complex about this dish, but these wings were prepared properly with well-rendered skin that was lightly crispy.  Add in the yuzukoshu marinade and there was a salty tanginess.

I particularly liked a seemingly non-assuming item in the 100% Wagyu Croquette coated with homemade panko, Japanese tartar and tonkatsu sauce.  Yah, this was indeed 100% wagyu as the meat was juicy, buttery and of course tender.  Lots of umaminess due to the fat content.  Plenty crispy on the outside while not greasy.  Loved dipping it into the tartar sauce as it reminded me of chicken nanban except with beef.

Staying with the same theme, we had Tonkatsu Teishoku with shredded cabbage, dressing, miso soup, rice, pickles and 2 types of sesame seeds (that you crush yourself).  Compared to Saku, the tonkatsu was more firm and meaty.  It was juicy though and ate quite tender.  The panko coating was similar to the croquettes being crispy without being greasy.

Raisu is well-known for their tonkatsu, but their signature offering is the Sho Ka Do Bento consisting of 9 featured appetizers (Chicken Karaage, Wagyu Nigiri, Soba Shooter, Yuzu Tuna Tataki, Grilled Lobster, Eggplant Agebitashi, Scallop Sashimi, Corn Karaage and Snow Crab on the Egg).  Yes, lots of little treasures that may or may not be familiar.  All very tasty especially the corn karaage and wagyu nigiri.  Only limited to 15 per day.

If you thought we were done, then you don't know Mijune very well...  So we soldiered on with the Bluefin Tuna Aburi Sushi.  These came in 4 different toppings and sauces.  I didn't note down what they were, but I believe there was diced pickle, ikura, fried shiso and 2 types of tobiko.  All were delicious and full of flavour without obscuring the delicate bluefin tuna.

Covered all over IG for the past few years, the Deluxe Seafood Bowl and the Blue Fin Tuna Deluxe Seafood Bowl are as good as they look.  I mean it was very obvious that the fish was very good quality and fresh.  Yes, these bowls aren't cheap, but the quantity of quality ingredients makes them worth every penny.  The rice underneath was prepared properly too being chewy and mild-tasting.

So we finished with all of the desserts including the Yuzu Gelato (included in the Omakase Uni Zukushi), Almond Tofu, Souffle Cheesecake and the Yuzu Parfait.  Other than the tofu, most things were a mash of the same ingredients.  However, the parfait featured raw cheesecake rather than the fluffy souffle cheesecake.  Everything was light and fruity.  Perfect ending to an absolute feast.  The quality of the ingredients and of course, the presentation are the calling card of Raisu.  Definitely a few notches above your typical Japanese spot in Vancity.

 *All food and beverages were complimentary*

The Good:

- High quality ingredients

- Carefully prepared

- Beautiful presentation

The Bad:

- On the pricier side, but you pay for what you get

- Desserts were good, could've had a bit more variety


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