|Deep Fried Mixed White Fish|
There is something about Japanese food that intrigues and enthrals me. I love the contradictions that it presents and especially how it takes such great skill to produce food that looks so simple. Key to the success or failure of many Japanese dishes is the careful juxtaposition of flavours to create food that is harmoniously balanced but which still surprises the taste buds.
The first thing that strikes you about the menu in RAW is that you need to cast aside any pre-conceptions regarding the 3-course meal format that we are more familiar with in this country. Many of the dishes in RAW are made up of several bite-sized offerings and are designed to be shared and, as such, you may end up ordering a number of them. However, if you are unsure about what to choose, the knowledgeable and attentive waiting staff will be more than happy to advise you. On the night that I dined there, I was feeling adventurous, so asked whether Chef Kuma would prepare a selection of dishes for me that he felt best represented and showcased the food on offer in RAW.
|Maki; California Roll|
A small bowl of Salted Edamame Beans was next up which I enjoyed with a hot Akashi Jai Hanjozo Sake. The beans were steamed whole, still encased in their pods and seasoned with just the right amount of salt. I enjoyed the ritual of podding them myself so that the beans popped directly into my mouth. There was something about the combination of hot sake with the beans that was so satisfying to eat and induced a deep sense of well-being within me.
|Salmon Belly Maki|
Rice is obviously the fundamental element in sushi and it cannot be overstated how important it is to get right. Cook it for too long and it becomes claggy. Ideally, each grain should cling to its neighbour in a slightly stand-offish way so that they ‘embrace’ like tentative lovers but are not glued together. The sushi in RAW was made using rice that was absolutely perfect. It was served at room temperature so that the flavours were not dulled from having been chilled.
The next dish a Miso Soup was stunning in its simplicity. Each spoonful of this soy bean paste soup which included scallions and wakame, another type of seaweed, was heavenly. Richly flavoured, the soup managed to feel light yet was also incredibly comforting to eat. The inclusion of cubes of tofu with their slightly springy texture gave the soup body.
Of all the sushi that I ate, the Spider Roll really stands out as it was unlike anything that I had eaten before. It possessed an astonishing depth of flavour for something that merely included rice, deep-fried soft-shell crab with avocado and a little mustard cress. I particularly liked the slightly crunchy texture of the crab which contrasted beautifully with the creamy avocado.
A tasting plate of the desserts on offer in the restaurant looked beautiful and included Homemade Sweet Chocolate encased Sushi, Green Tea Ice-Cream and Red Adzuki Bean Jelly with Chestnut. Each was quite unusual. My favourite was the ice-cream which due to the inclusion of matcha green-tea powder had a slightly bitter taste which was mitigated somewhat by the sweet and intensely flavoured strawberry sauce it came served with.
Service was extremely attentive but never obtrusive and our waitress answered all our questions about the food we were eating with grace. From our table we could watch as Chef Kuma serenely prepared the sushi with great skill and purpose.
|Barbecued Eel Nigiri|
Dishes on the menu range in price depending on which and how many pieces of sushi you choose but there are options to suit all budgets. The restaurant also operates a take-away service.
Open: Tuesday – Saturday 6pm – 10pm
This review first appeared in TheTaste.ie