There are a few safe bets for people looking for good Asian fusion in the DC area and Raku definitely falls into this category. With two locations (that I know about) in Bethesda and Dupont Circle, Raku provides a consistent dining experience and lively ambiance that has made it a mainstay in DC.
Cost – $$
Service – B
Raku seems to have an entirely Asian workforce (On a side note – is it legal for a business to only hire Asians?) who can speak English with varying levels of proficiency. The service tends to be solid if not spectacular.
Food – B
For hardcore Asian cuisine aficionados, Raku is going to provide an average dining experience. They have Thai, Chinese, and Japanese dishes that individually don’t rank as well as restaurants that focus on these regions. However, the synthesis of all these different dishes provides a good menu and pretty good dining experience from a purely culinary standpoint.
Decor – B+
The decor is what differentiates Raku from most Asian fusion places and allows them to sell dishes at somewhat higher prices. It has a fun, open aesthetic that people seem to enjoy because the place is normally packed. I like the layout and design of the Bethesda location slightly more than the Raku in Dupont although the Dupont Raku has ample outdoor seating.
Feel – A-
As I mentioned previously, Raku consistently draws pretty decent-sized crowds and for good reason: they offer solid Asian food and a decent price in a fun environment. Their locations are also prime: in Dupont they are just off Connecticut and Bethesda they are right on Bethesda Row, so they have clearly made some pretty strategic decisions about location. Raku is a pretty safe bet for a weekday evening or dinner with friends.
Raku is located at 1900 Q St NW near Dupont and at 7240 Woodmont Ave in Bethesda.
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