January 2007: 100 Very Best Restaurants
Memorable Asian fusion on downtown Bethesda's restaurant row.
Reviewed By Todd Kliman, Ann Limpert, Cynthia Hacinli
Comments () | Published January 22, 2007

Raku Bethesda
Address: 7240 Woodmont Ave., Bethesda, MD 20814
Phone: 301-718-8680
Neighborhood: Bethesda/Glen Echo
Cuisines: Sushi, Pan-Asian, Japanese, Chinese
Opening Hours: Open for lunch Monday through Friday 11:30 to 2:30, Saturday and Sunday noon to 3. Open for dinner Sunday through Thursday 5 to 10, Friday and Saturday 5 to 10:30.
Nearby Metro Stops: Bethesda
Price Range: Moderate
Dress: Informal
Noise Level: Chatty
Reservations: Recommended
Price Details: Entrees, $16.50 to $25.

No. 96: Raku Bethesda

Jammed in with the hordes in the early evening, you might think that pan-Asian cuisine had just been invented. But dig into a creamy coconut Thai curry bouillabaisse or a wok-charred Chilean sea bass with ginger-tomato sauce, and you begin to understand the popularity of this colorful cafe on Bethesda’s restaurant row: Raku rescues the cliché, knitting the threads of Japanese, Thai, and Chinese into something memorable.

It’s also family-friendly and easy on the wallet. The menu can suit any appetite or occasion. More peckish than hungry? Go small and make a meal of sushi: The Wasabi Dynamite Roll, a hand roll with slivers of salmon, yellowtail, and tuna sprinkled with wasabi tobiko, is the standout among a roster of tasty rolls; the Seoul Train roll combines tuna and spicy kimchee. And the signature tuna tartare is as vivid as ever, lemon basil and a scattering of peanuts counteracting the butteriness of the fish. Bigger appetites, meanwhile, should gravitate toward the rib-eye teriyaki or plump shrimp-and-pork dumplings.

Reservations are suggested, and if you want to miss the crush, think late-ish, when the crowds disappear and the parade of plates is more leisurely.
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Posted at 07:13 AM/ET, 01/22/2007 RSS | Print | Permalink | Washingtonian.com Restaurant Reviews