Sherman's Food Adventures: Rajio Public House

Rajio Public House

Boy, I haven't been to Rajio in quite some time and it isn't because of the pandemic either.  Sure, it has only recently reopened for dine-in, but if I remember correctly, the last time I ate at the place was way back in 2016.  It's been so long, I remember dining at this location when it was Pair Bistro.  Okay, that is going too far back.  Let's concentrate on the present where they are welcoming guests back into the dining room.  Jacqueline and I were invited to try out some of their new items including the Kushikatsu.

Speaking of which, we got a selection of the Kushikatsu including Duck, Jumbo Shrimp, Scallop, Oyster, Lotus Root, Onion Pork, Beef, Eel and Squid.  These were fairly large in size depending on the item.  I enjoyed the shrimp as it was not overdone and crispy on the outside.  The duck was good too as well as the oyster.  There was a sweet soy dip served in a large metal trough (which made it easy to dip).  In reality, we only tried a small amount of the available options.  

Something pretty standard on any Izakaya menu is the KCT Karaage.  This version featured huge chunks of juicy chicken thigh coated with a seasoned batter of dashi and soy sauce.  Hence, there was no need for any dip or dressing as each piece was not only bursting with natural juices, it was also full-flavoured while not salty.  The lemon on the side was necessary in my opinion as it added some brightness.

One of my favourite dishes of the meal was the Fresh Corn Karaage.  This was deep-fried and tossed in a truffle soy butter sauce and aonori.  Such a simple item, but so full of impactful flavours.  I got the savouriness of the soy, but the silkiness of the butter added depth.  There was only a slight hint of truffle and more umaminess was provided by the aonori.  Of course the sweetness of the corn itself completed the flavour profile.

Now the corn was one of my favourites, but possibly my favourite of all was the Cheese Tofu sporting cream cheese, gorgonzola and mozzarella.  This cheese mixture was so smooth and creamy.  The sharpness of the gorgonzola was kept to minimum while the whole thing was balanced off by the maple syrup and preserved figs.  When spread onto the melba toast, there was a nice textural contrast.

One of the more offbeat dishes was the Peking Chicken.  It came complete with crepes, scallions, julienned cucumber and hoisin sauce.  So all the elements were there and instead of duck skin, we found battered and fried chicken skin along with some shrimp chips.  The crepes were chewy yet moist while the chicken skin was indeed crispy.  For this dish, I would've liked to see non-battered crispy chicken skin though. 

Onto an Izakaya classic, we had the Jumbo Ebi Mayo.  Maybe they were just a bit too aggressive with the chili mayo, but rest assured, this didn't detract from the overall eating experience.  In fact, the tempura-battered prawns were still crispy where it was meaty and cooked just enough.  I personally would've loved a bit more of the chili portion of the mayo, but this was still good nonetheless. 

Onto some bigger items, we had the Uni-Bonara Udon in a creamy sea urchin sauce topped with real crab, tobiko, egg crepe, nori and arugula.  This was so savoury and sweet with full umami effect.  Hence, each bite yield such appealing flavour, I couldn't wait to take the next bite.  When mixed with all of the toppings, the dish took on more textures (as subtle as they were) and some hits of the sea.

We also added the Beef Steak Bibimbap with diced beef tenderloin, kombu, pickled celery, arugula and garlic chips on rice.  The stone bowl was hot enough to create a socarrat which was nutty and crunchy.  As for the mixture of ingredients, it was full of texture and sweet acidity.  When combined with the sweet garlic soy, there was plenty of flavour to go around.  I thought this rice was definitely a must order as it was both filling and tasty.

Something that took me by surprise was the Heavenly Shrimp Tonkotsu Ramen sporting a milky shrimp and pork bone broth.  This was so incredibly impactful that I drank all of all it!  Think of it as a classic tonkotsu broth spiked with the essence of shrimp shells.  So much briny umaminess!  The noodles were al dente and the slice of fatty chashu was melt-in-my-mouth tender.  I truly didn't expect such a solid ramen for a non-ramen spot.

For dessert, we had both the Crème Hojicha Pudding and Almond Tofu.  These were the perfect end to a varied and delicious meal.  I found the hojicha pudding to be creamy and light while spiked with plenty of tea flavour and muted sweetness.  As for the almond tofu, this was smooth and lightly sweet.  The fruity strawberry topping added some tang and brightness.  I'm so glad I had the opportunity to come back to Rajio and try most of the menu as they reopened their dining room.  I missed going for Izakaya during the pandemic and now that the cases are heading on a downward trend, I hope to keep coming back in the future.

*All food and beverages were complimentary*

The Good:
- Large selection of Kushikatsu
- Solid eats
- Surprisingly good larger dishes

The Bad:
- Small space, don't bring a large party


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