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Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Las Vegas - Sweets Raku

This past weekend I was in Las Vegas. A friend had recommended I check out Sweets Raku since I love desserts. As soon as I looked it up on Yelp, I knew I had to make time for it. Unfortunately they don't take reservations so I told my friends we were gonna go soon after they open to avoid the after dinner crowd!

Sweets Raku
5040 W Spring Mountain Rd. Ste 3
Las Vegas, NV 89146
(702) 290-7181
Price: $$-$$$

It's located in Las Vegas Chinatown, which I've never been to. And in the same shopping center as Aburiya Raku, its sister restaurant (and our dinner destination.) It's a little hard to find since they don't really have a sign outside. Just look for the big spoon. As you walk in, you see a glass display wall of wines, quite modern in decor. I was so excited when we entered. First, because the place was still pretty empty and there were room at the bar! And second, the chef and waitresses were all Japanese and it really made me feel like I was back in Japan, in some fancy afternoon tea place. Yay!

We were immediately seated at the bar, which everyone says is the way to go since you can watch the chef work. Sure enough, she's chugging away at some delicious looking sweets! The chef, Mio Ogasawara, won 2013 Pastry Chef of the Year, Desert Companion Restaurant Awards. As if my expectations for this place needs to be any higher! :P

There was a yummy looking display right in front of my seat. Caramel Roll Cake (caramel sponge, caramel cream, chocolate mousse and banana) $18~ for whole cake. And the chef was making it as we sat down. It was really cool watching her work. She moves really fast!

We were first given a drink menu. My friend decided to get a bottle of the Rose 'N' Blum Red Moscato, Sonoma, 750 ml $35~ I'm picky about wines and only like the really sweet stuff. This wasn't the sweetest Moscato I've had, but it was sweet enough for me. Best served chilled.

Next we were presented with a plate with our menu on top. It's edible! The paper AND the gold ring that held it. The menu was made of rice paper and the ring was pulled sugar. If eaten on it's own, the paper is a bit dry but after we ordered, we were given a raspberry sauce for dipping. It made a huge difference! The two paired really well together. I was going to save part of the menu but ended up eating the whole thing and scraped up every little bit of the sauce. haha.

There are 2 options, either do the 3 course prix fixe or just get a dessert a la carte. The difference is only $7, which one do you think I went with? hahaha.

3 of us ended up getting the Prix Fixe (3 course dessert: Amuse, main dessert, and petit four) $19~

The Amuse was a Orange Sorbet with Strawberry Jelly. The colors were so vibrant and so was the flavor. The orange was very refreshing and definitely cleared our palates for whatever was coming next!

For my main dessert, I chose Red Rock (raspberry fondant). Raspberry lava cake, topped with pulled sugar. 2 types of ice cream, I think one was pistachio and one was vanilla. Chocolate sauce, little pieces of dried fruit, granola/corn flakes of some sort. And homemade yuzu marshmallows. 
We watched as they put the little cakes into the oven. They baked while the chef puts together the rest of the plate. The plating was so beautiful. Every little decoration and accent was strategically placed... dots of chocolate sauce, mint leaf, dried fruit.. all artistically arranged on the plate. Then we saw her flip out the cakes and top with the sugar threads. Definitely the most beautiful looking dessert of the night in my opinion. And it tasted amazing. I cut into the cake and the sauce just poured out. There was even a full piece of raspberry in the center! 
The cake was soft, luxurious, decadent without being too heavy. Everything paired together so well. I loved the added texture with the crunchy flakes. The yuzu marshmallows were fantastic on their own. You can definitely taste the yuzu (which is a Japanese citrus) in a light fluffy piece of cloud. Love love loved it!

One of my friends got the Baton (chocolate and pistachio mousse). Chocolate cake topped with chocolate cream, some sort of red (raspberry?) sauce, chocolate mousse and pistachio cream all layered inside a thin chocolate cookie cylinder. Topped with a pulled sugar ribbon. 
This was my other choice so I still got to try it. He said he has had the Red Rock before. This was my favorite, even though everything was good. The waitress said he needed to break the cookie and eat everything together. I was kinda sad to see such a beautiful plate be destroyed, but I also wanted to eat some. haha. 
The cookie was so thin and delicate, slightly bitter from the dark chocolate that worked so well balancing the different types of creams and mousse inside. It was also decadent without being too heavy. None of the desserts were overly sweet, just like how they make them in Japan.

Another friend got the Mt. Fuji (chestnut cream cake). Sponge cake with chestnut mousse, then covered with chestnut cream. 
The cream piping technique was so cool to watch! It came out looking like spaghetti. hehe. Apparently this is their number one seller. I have a feeling it's because of the presentation. Really cool looking dish. 
I almost got this one but was glad I didn't because it was a lot of cream. I like things with a crunchy texture and this one was just all soft. Plus my friend said it kind of tasted like taro to her, which I agreed. I'm not a fan of taro. I thought I liked chestnuts though, maybe I just haven't had enough to really know. But still, it was a good quality and definitely pretty dessert.

The final Petit Four was a cream puff. We got to choose between chocolate or vanilla cream and either strawberry, raspberry, or black currant jelly. It came with a caramel sauce with candied orange peel and passion fruit and raspberry marshmallows. Even the plating for the cream puffs were fantastic. And all the homemade marshmallows throughout the night were like little pieces of clouds. So dainty and yummy. I chose vanilla cream and black currant, it just seemed more unique than the other jelly flavors.
 The puff was nice and thin and filled to the brim with cream and jelly. Yummy!! My friend got chocolate cream with strawberry jelly. 
He said the black currant was better. The addition of the caramel and candied orange peel was a nice touch. Lots of complex flavors but all worked together.

Two friends ordered a la carte, which is $12~ One also got the Red Rock and the other got Marriage (strawberry and banana). Sponge cake with banana custard and cream, topped with a strawberry mousse "ball", and fresh berries. Again, really gorgeous plating. I was especially intrigued with the ball of strawberry mousse on top. The dessert was light and airy and not too sweet.

While the chef was making the caramel roll cake earlier, I saw her cutting off the ends. So I asked our waitress what they do with those and if we can get a sample. She brought us each a taste at the end of our meal. :) Light cake with fluffy cream. It was tasty.

This was an amazing experience. I'm so glad we put it on the schedule and got a seat immediately. The decor was bright and clean and modern, the plating and presentation were top notch, and the service was great. All the waitresses were full of smiles and very nice. It does take a while since the desserts were made to order. We were there for a little over an hour and half. But it's for the full experiences and shouldn't be rushed anyways. It brought me back to dining in Japan... I miss it. I'm going to have to make this a "must visit" every time I'm in Vegas.

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