Sunday, September 30, 2018

Quick Bite: Rakitori Japanese Pub & Grill

Yakitori skewers at Rakitori
Yes, I eat a lot of pork belly.
The first step is admitting you have a problem.
Sunday lunch was a trip to Rakitori Japanese Pub & Grill on University Avenue, a cozy dimly lit spot near the center of Hillcrest. They serve a wide assortment of Japanese cuisine including sushi, ramen and yakitori.

We decided to start off splitting some skewers. The bacon-wrapped enoki skewers were very nice, salty with a peculiar bite from the threadlike mushrooms. The bacon could have been a bit crisper. The pork belly was deliciously savory with the right amount of fat and a slight char.

We ordered one roll, the Surprise Me, which contrary to its name was nothing all that shocking. It had spicy tuna inside, salmon outside, and the only unusual part was the garlic mustard sauce, which was good but milder than it sounds. Tasty overall, but not a standout.

My wife's rice bowl consisted was topped with broccoli, carrot, lettuce and a generous helping of pork belly, topped with teriyaki sauce and a bit of green onion. It was a pretty simple dish since much of it was just white rice and steamed veggies, but the pork was tender and lightly sweet from the sauce.

Spicy tonkotsu ramen at Rakitori
I had the spicy tonkotsu ramen, which was excellent. It was a large bowl full of thin-style noodles and savory broth, with a layer of (moderately spicy) chile oil on top. The other elements all integrated well into the dish: sweet corn, soy-glazed medium-boiled egg, the soft juicy pork belly, scallion and a hint of ginger. This would be a great bowl to warm up with on a rainy day. All in all, some of the better ramen I've had, which is impressive considering it's not necessarily their specialty.

Based on the name, Rakitori could easily be a place that does skewers well but not much else. Instead, it's mostly successful in taking on a lot of different styles of Japanese cuisine. It's probably a good place to come with a group, as there's sure to be something to suit every taste—and there'll be more plates to sample, too.

Score: 8 out of 10 (Superior)

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