In a city full of endless possibilities, it can be stressful to pick a place to eat at. Maybe it’s because I’m notoriously indecisive, but Manhattan provides a wealth of options. In the mood for Italian food? Google it and you’ll be given a list of 20 places in your area. It can be hard to decide which one to pick, despite how helpful Yelp can be.

I find it best to sometimes go off your friend’s recommendations. They’ve eaten there and they know it’s good. My friend and I were venturing off to a noodle restaurant one of our friends recommended to us. However, the dream of slurping on those delectable soup noodles was soon crushed when we found out we had to wait at least an hour to be seated. We were then faced with the dilemma of where to eat but flooded with too many options to sift through.

After a lot of Googling and reading of Yelp reviews, we picked a Japanese restaurant called Raku.

We had a hard time locating it at first. This establishment is as hidden it can be – just a plain wooden door with no sign. You’re lucky if you happen to spot the white menu hanging against the white building exterior. After wandering around like fools for a little while, were able to find it.

The interior decor is clean and minimalistic. It’s quite a small restaurant, so we felt lucky they were able to seat us immediately. The menu was intriguing because it didn’t consist of the typical dishes you see at Japanese restaurants. Sure, there were dumplings but there was also monk fish liver.

My friend and I decided we would order a bunch of items to share, this way we could try a variety of things. We started with gyoza and nasu no agedashi. Gyoza was pan-fried dumplings and we had the choice of pork or vegetable. We ordered the pork and they were phenomenal. I loved the dipping sauce they came with. I normally find all dumplings to be similar in taste, but these were the best dumplings I’ve ever had.

The nasu no agedashi was deep fried eggplant. The batter on the eggplant was light and enjoyable. This dish came with another element we couldn’t quite figure out. It looked like prosciutto and tasted like prosciutto, but Japanese cooking does not normally contain this Italian meat. Whatever it was, it was delicious. We were a little skeptical of it at first, though, because it was moving slightly. And no, there wasn’t a fan over our table – I checked. Although this dish remains a bit of a mystery, it was the best thing we ordered.

As we munched on our entrees, we sipped on miyasaka yawaraka sake. I don’t know much about sake, but this one reminded me of a very dry white wine. It had a slight sake taste and it was served cold. The last time I tried sake it was hot and had a potent sake flavor. I really enjoyed this miyasaka yawaraka in comparison.

We decided to order a noodle soup and a rice bowl as our entrees to share. The noodle soup was kamonan udon. This soup consisted of duck and tokyo negi. The broth, which contained fish, was rich in flavor. The noodles were thick and extremely silky in taste, but a little too silky for my chopstick. I had quite a difficult time eating them, but when I managed to, they were outstanding. My friend preferred this over the two entrees.

The rice bowl option we chose was unatama don – BBQ eel and egg rice bowl. This dish was also served with a side of soup and pickled vegetables. This was my favorite entree of the two. The eel was subtle in flavor but you still got lovely hints of the BBQ flavor. The egg added a nice texture to the rice. I didn’t get to eat much of the miso soup because I was getting so full, but it was some of the better miso soup I’ve had in my life.

The food was priced very reasonably and you were given a lot of food for each entree. Our waitress was quite helpful because we were confused by some of the items on the menu. At Raku, you can find traditional Japanese cuisine. Guzzle on some silky soup noodles, sift your way through a rice bowl or eat some unidentifiable meat with fried eggplant. Order something more traditional or stick to the popular American route – whichever your tastebuds desire.


342 E 6th St, New York, NY 10003


Tues-Sun 12 PM-11 PM

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