For a while, Raku has been top of mind for udon in NYC, and for a while, I’ve been wanting to go. Though it wasn’t until V suggested that we met for dinner at Raku in SoHo that I finally went.
Udon is a type of thick, wheat-based noodle that is a staple in Japanese cuisine. These noodles are known for their chewy texture (love it!) and they are typically white or pale in color, and served in a clear, fish-based broth. I love udon almost as much as I love ramen, so it’s strange that it took me so long to get to Raku. Now after I’ve been there, I can’t wait to go back.
At Raku, you can choose from a long list of hot udon and a slightly shorter list of cold udon. In addition to udon, there’s also a range of different appetizers and small plates. I had the Gyunan udon with washugyu and prime beef and V had the Chikara, which was a gorgeous bowl with udon, chicken and mochi. I would have wanted to try some of the sides too, but I thought I would first finish my udon and then see what I was in the mood for. Turned out the udon bowl was so filling, that I wasn’t even sure I had room for dessert and sides were out of the question. Though V said that the soba pudding was amazing, and that we would regret it if we didn’t get it, so we decided to share one, and yes, it was delicious. It tasted a bit like crème brûlée, probably because of the Okinawa brown sugar, and it had a creamy, yummy texture that I really liked.
Regarding drinks, I had a Japanese Ramune soda, which I always order, when I see it on the menu. It’s a clear, sweet, carbonated drink that tastes a bit like Sprite, but it’s not the drink itself that makes me order it; it’s the glass marble that is sealed at the top of the bottle. To open the bottle, you must use a plastic device that comes with it to push the marble down into the bottle. It can be tricky, but in the video below, you can see how it’s done by one of the staff members at Raku:)
You can make a reservation at Raku (online reservations are open 2 weeks in advance) but they reserve most of the dining room for walk-ins. When we were there (at Raku in Soho), we didn’t have a reservation, so we put our name down on the list, and went for a walk. We were there a little later than planned, and the restaurant had already filled up with the first wave of diners, so I think we waited around an hour before we got a notification that there was a space for us. If you go without a reservation, try to go there on a weekday, and try to be there just when they open for the shortest wait.