If I can't see a menu and easily access it at all times, that's pretty much a deal breaker for me with a few exceptions. The greatest example of this is Raku, my hands down, favorite restaurant in Bethesda. I know what you're thinking - "Your favorite in THE city of restaurants? You're crazy hungrylittlegirl, you can't possibly choose just ONE favorite!" You try and eat there and tell me I'm wrong.
Ok, so I don't want to totally hype this place up and make you think you'll be eating with golden utensils and be getting a massage with dessert because there are some flaws. The place is SMALL. They really cram you in there so forget it if you're considering a quiet romantic dinner or catching up with grandma. In such a small joint, the service can be pretty spotty since getting around isn't easy unless you're an olympic gymnast but they do the best they can. Then again, all of these things can be remedied with an order of sake.
Lucky for me, the last visit I made was during Bethesda Row's restaurant week (who knew they had one?!) so I got 3 courses for $30. Raku offers pretty much their whole menu for RW with only a few surcharge options. Even luckier for me I went with my family so I got to taste a whole array of this place's Asian fusion goodies.
Chicken Satay Salad
Grilled Asian BBQ Octopus
Ok, now don't get all weirded out on me. It looks weird - it's an octopus. Well your beloved fried calamari is a SQUID so get over it.
Usually you can't get very fresh octo around here so it's usually pretty chewy by the time it gets to your table. However, this was tender, not too chewy and grilled with a delicious Asian BBQ sauce that had a little kick at the end. Definitely looks like this will be a repeat offender for me.
Oh! and the sauce! The sauce! Call me a cilantro-whore but the creamy cilantro dipping sauce is to die.
Chinese Spiced Duck Breast
Are you still wondering why I love this place? It's duck, people, cooked a perfect medium-rare with a killer plum sauce that doesn't overwhelm the fatty goodness of this delicious piece of poultry.
In fusiony nature, they serve this with spaetzle instead of rice which actually soaks up said sauce quite well. There were vegetables on this plate? Forgive me for forgetting.
How do Asians do steak? Covered in thinly sliced caramelized onions and a hoisiny sauce on top of a perfectly cooked piece of meat so tender you'd think it was a ribeye.
Grilled Whole Bronzino
Stuffed with tons of aromatics, this little fishy wins for the night. Simple, yet so flavorful you wonder what's really in there. The sweet potato chips add a nice touch too.
So how do I deal with this pet peeve? At Raku it doesn't even matter because with food this good, I already know whatever I order will work.
7240 Woodmont Ave.Bethesda, MD 20814