Sushi Raku Review – In Houston The Name Says Sushi, but the Menu Says "Wow!"

What has 30 tons of decorative red rope, $70,000 worth of ornamental wood, local artisan wall paintings, and exquisite Japanese food? No, it’s not the Art Museum. It’s the seductive and sleek new restaurant located in mid-town Houston: Sushi Raku.

Sushi Raku Waterfall

As we entered, we strolled past a linear waterfall that provided an artful and calming effect.  Then, walking inside, we were captivated by the  exceptional style and spaciousness.  At the center of the large main room, is a long sushi bar with tables and booths around the periphery. Working behind the bar is a group of white Toqued sushi chefs, artistically slicing fresh fish as perfectly as experienced Beverly Hills plastic surgeons! At the far end of the sushi bar is the robata grill where diners can watch their food being cooked.

To the left of the main room behind those thick red ropes, which have been hung and twisted into a stunning and elaborate curtain, is the bar area. 

Sushi Raku Rope Elements

Other side rooms, equally imposing, contain huge, original portraiture's of a samurai warrior and princess. We knew these were original when the artist arrived and began working on one.

Every element in the design of this restaurant has been carefully thought out and executed to the finest detail. The owner, Patrick Chiu, has made it a delightful showplace – for his customers’ eyes and palates alike.

Sushi Raku Wall Paintings

More important than the beautiful decor, is the food. To ensure his kitchen excels, Chiu has brought in head Chef, Taka Sekiguchi.

Sushi Raku Chef Taka

They have devised an eclectic and tantalizing menu. Where Raku shines is venturing off the standard sushi-sashimi list with an unusual selection of cold and hot dishes, promising to surprise and please.  We tried many of them and can state unequivocally, they have succeeded!

Our first dish was a recommendation from the women at the booth next to us.  They simply insisted that we order the Kobe Sliders.  Although we wouldn’t usually order burgers at a Japanese restaurant, we took the leap and went with it.

Sushi Raku Kobe Sliders

The Kobe patties were ultra-juicy and tender, served with grilled onions and 3 sauces with a unique and delicious garnish of fried burdock root on top.  An excellent dish – definitely worthy of a recommendation!

Next we went with the Popcorn Crabs with 7 Spice Dry Rub and Lime.  These were tiny crabs deep fried in their shell. We devoured every crunchy little morsel of these flavorful goodies.   

Sushi Raku Fried Crab

We always like mussels, and opted for Raku’s version - steamed with fried Leeks, Pearl Tomatoes, and Adaishi and Zuba leaf.  What’s to say? Mmm, mmm, they were oh-so sweet with the mussels picking up the essence of the vegetable flavors.

Sushi Raku Mussels

Next came our favorite dish of all – Grilled Pork Cheek with Apple Compote and Caramelized Walnuts If it sounds good, multiply by 100 and that’s how delicious it tasted.  Simply stated: OMG, to die for!

Sushi Raku Pork Cheek

We could have stopped eating then and there, and been perfectly content. Except, with so many tempting un-tasted dishes, that wasn’t going to happen. Next, we tried what looked plain and simple, but turned out to be rich and luscious: Steamed Sea Bass with Black Beans.  Marilyn called it, “Yummy in the tummy!” 

Sushi Raku Flounder

Then, at our waiter Van’s suggestion, we had another seemingly simple, but ultimately complex fish dish, Usuzukuri. Comprised solely of thinly sliced flounder with lime and white soy sauce, it was smooth and refreshing, a perfect ending for the meal. So we thought.

Chef Taka asked, "How we could be at a sushi restaurant and not eat sushi?" So instead of trying a traditional dessert, we finished with a combo of fresh water and salt water eel drizzled with plum sauce for sweetness. Almost as good as dessert!

Sushi Raku Eel

The dining sensation at Sushi Raku is not just about fine food, but the “one-ness” felt in the carefully cultured ambiance Patrick Chiu has created. To feel good about almost everything in a restaurant these days is rare, and we stayed to enjoy it as long as we could.

Located on the ground floor of a mid-town high-rise, below 24-Hour-Fitness, it’s the ideal place to visit, whether after a workout, after work or just about any other time.  So next time you’re hungry in Houston, visit Sushi Raku for a gastronomic experience that will have you wanting to return for more.  Maybe we’ll see you the next time we’re in town!

3201 Louisiana St.
Houston, TX 77006

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