During our crisp Canberra winters, it can be tempting to stay at home. But don’t do your tastebuds the disservice. A decadent menu of seasonal produce celebrated in spectacular Japanese precision is waiting in the city’s centre.
Seasonality is king at Raku, where the refreshed autumn/winter menu stars mushrooms, daikon and leek – all of which are at their peak now. Raku owner and executive chef Hao Chen has devised a simple and warming dish of Blackmore full-blood wagyu served with rhubarb salt, fresh wasabi and Japanese ponzu sauce. Chen notes that the hero on the plate - the 600-day grain-fed Victorian wagyu from Australia’s wagyu pioneer David Blackmore’s Alexandra farm - is “quite possibly some of the highest quality wagyu beef available in Australia”.
And that’s just the beginning of the mouth-watering new menu. “Expect more Robata grilled dishes, richer sauces and hot desserts, including Black Sesame Crème Brûlée and our Whisky Fondant,” says the chef.
Now is also the optimum time for showcasing the ocean’s bounty. “Autumn is a great time for seafood, and we source high-quality oysters, snapper, hiramasa and prawns from all over the country,” he says.
The drinks menu hasn’t been forgotten either. Leave the white wine on ice and instead pop open a bottle of exotic red. Chen suggests a “Malbec, Barolo, Tempranillo or Cabernet to pair with the changes on the grill”.
As if the attentive flavour pairings and highest quality produce isn’t enough to draw big crowds (yes, bookings are essential!), the tick of approval from one of the world’s top culinary queens has certainly proved to be. During a visit to Canberra earlier this year, Nigella Lawson shared Instagram photos of her Raku feast, saying, “...I’m still stunned by all that beautiful food”. Chen says that since then, “We have had so many fans travel around world come to tasting Raku”.
Raku is also in the illustrious Gault & Millau 2019 book.