Jonathan Gold offers a bit of high praise for Aburiya Raku in his latest review, fawning over the Japense izakaya's sturdy menu and fun, slightly funky atmosphere. Noting that the place falls somewhere on the spectrum between Las Vegas (where the original Raku resides) and a private club, Gold leans into some of the restaurant's favorites, like their firmer-than-usual tofu.
You could probably make an entire meal at Aburiya Raku out of nothing but meat and fish cooked on the charcoal grill: chunks of chicken breast wrapped in thin, crisp sheets of its own skin; chewy bits of Kurobuta pork cheek; meltingly rich slivers of pig ear; beef dabbed with wasabi or duck breast sweetened with a few drops of balsamic vinegar. You'll probably want the slab of salmon belly, skin blistered and crunchy, served with grated daikon and marinated salmon roe. You will definitely want the tsukune: fluffy meatballs of ground chicken formed into the shape of Louisville Sluggers.
Ultimately Gold calls Raku a top-five izakaya option in greater Los Angeles. That's a nice, upper-middle place to be, particularly when you're keeping the kind of long hours that Raku does.
The Elsewhere: Unemployed Eater digs the burger at Leona, KevinEats checks in on Phillip Pretty at Restauration in Long Beach, and The Offalo digs into Komodo in Venice.