#166: Raku Sushi

This last Thursday was a day of overeating for me.  Lunch at an Indian buffet and for dinner and this post, Raku Sushi, an all you can eat restaurant in Northeast Roseville.  They have another location in West Sacramento.  This is not your typical all you can eat buffet.  It’s a sit-down and table service type of place, and the sushi chef’s make everything to order.  First off, a little warning that just about all of these photos are not very good.  The pace of this meal was hard enough to keep up with in addition to taking photos, I was not on my game at all.  Lets dive right in.

I met my mom and brother here for dinner at about 5:30PM.  They are open for lunch and dinner and close for a couple hours in between.  We walked in to an empty dining room and a staff that was ready to start serving.  We took a seat in the largish square space filled with tables.  They have a small amount of sushi bar seating as well.  Our server greeted us and after learning that this was our first visit explained the whole process.  Dinner is 19.95 and includes everything on the dinner menu as well as the lunch menu (link to menus).  She also explained that this month (November 2013) they were celebrating the company’s 5th anniversary and were having some specials.  These included half off all beer, some sake specials, and a roll or sashimi special of the chef’s choice.  There may have been more, but these were the bits that got my attention.  These specials are going on through the end of the month, so if you’re curious about Raku, now would be a good time to check it out.

One question I had before we arrived was if you could order from a more traditional menu a la carte.  My brother is a vegetarian and rightfully felt that the small selection of vegetarian options on the menu would not be worth $19.95.  I called in earlier in the day and confirmed that a normal menu was available side by side with all you can eat.  What went down when he asked for that menu was actually very cool though.  Our server said he could still get all you can eat and choose from the vegetarian rolls on the regular menu as well, so that worked out nicely.  My brother wasn’t picky and asked to be surprised, and our server told him she was also a vegetarian and would pick out a good selection for him.  We all ordered beer and investigated the salad bar after putting in our first order of sushi.

The salad bar has salad, edamame, wasabi, ginger, and a few other items.  To the side were stacks of little plates and small dishes for soy sauce.  Back at the table I had my Asahi Black[$6.00 $3.00].  This was the first time I’ve had it and it was quite delicious.  My brother had suggested it and after tasting it also decided it was really good.  Very smooth with just a touch of a sweet honey flavor.  Soon we had our first round of rolls and nigiri showing up one after the other.  We had the Bob’s roll (Grilled eel, spicy crab meat topped w/ smoked salmon and avocado), the Harbor (Deep-fried tuna maki topped w/ crab meat and house spicy sauce) and one other roll I can’t recall the name of.  Also we had 4 orders of nigiri – sake (salmon), maguro (tuna), albacore (white tuna) and hamachi (yellowtail).  One of the nice things about the rolls were that they came in 4-6 pieces meaning you could try lots of different ones without filing up too quickly.  Of this first round, my mom and I decided that the Harbor was the best.  It was full of flavor and despite having two little chilis next to it on the menu, was not at all spicy.  Visually it was also one of the most interesting ones we had the whole night.

The special sashimi order we got turned out to be seared albacore, which neither my mom and I were crazy about.  I’m not a fan of that texture and would much prefer completely raw fish.  My brother had an assortment of vegetarian items brought out with the first round.  A few different rolls and a two item plate with some rice wrapped in fried tofu skin.

We were off to a good start but definitely needed a little more.  The portions were definitely smaller than your average sushi joint.  The fish and avocado are sliced a bit thinner.  There wasn’t an abnormal amount of rice there to try and fill you up, which I liked.  Next up I ordered some unagi.  I went with nigiri and temaki (hand roll).  My mom picked out a couple of rolls, one of which was the 49’ers (Shrimp tempura, avocado topped w/salmon & lemon).  These all came out fairly quick.  The temaki came in a little stand to hold it upright.  This was the first time I’ve seen one of those, kinda neat.  The hand roll was delicious.  The piece of eel was a bit small, but the flavor from the unagi sauce permeated the entire roll.  Likewise, the unagi nigiri was also smaller but still delicious.  I helped my mom finish off the last of the rolls.  Both were good.

Finally, I caved in and ordered dessert (I didn’t put up much of a fight, admittedly).  Choices are deep-fried banana, sesame ball or a donut.  I went with the donut.  I had one of these several years ago at a similar all you can eat sushi place in midtown and remembered them being good.  It took maybe 5 minutes and arrived hot and covered in sugar.  Obviously just out of the frier, it was a bit crisp.  The inside was nice and soft.  It was a nice end to a day of stuffing my face.

Overall I was happy with Raku.  Before I knew it was a table service place I was very worried about a repeat experience of Tomi.  The service was excellent.  Our server was very friendly and patient, happy to explain everything in detail and let us know what our options were.  Staff were regularly coming by to remove empty plates as soon as the last bite was taken from them.  The sushi was a step below your typical, non all you can eat place, but not that really far below.  Portions were smaller, which I actually think is a plus here.  The fish is sliced thinner but everything was fresh and the quality was good.  I can easily drop $40-50 on a very satisfying sushi dinner elsewhere and it’s nice to know this option is available if I want filling, reasonably priced sushi.

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