Rakuen 樂宴 - Immerse in Okinawa for a Night

Rating: ❤1/2

I visited Okinawa for the first time 2 years ago and when I came back to HK, I missed the food there and searched for Okinawan restaurants, which was how I stumbled upon Rakuen in CWB. I love the food there so I was excited when I received a tasting invitation for their branch in LKF! Located on D'aguilar Street, the restaurant was located in a building right smack in the middle of the pubs and bars area. 

The decor was similar to the CWB branch in that it looked like a traditional Japanese izakaya with wooden furnitures and bottles of sakes lining the walls. It was bigger and more spacious than the CWB branch. The menu choices were vast from traditional Okinawan cuisine to wagyu beef to fresh sashimi. The menus in LKF and CWB were mostly similar, though I think there were some items that were only available in LKF and vice versa. Thanks to the restaurant, we were given a budget and got to picked whatever we wanted from their menu. 

Home Made Peanut Flavored Tofu
 ($65) - this is one of my favorite Okinawan snack! The texture of the tofu was not typical at all as it was more chewy like mochi. It had a strong tofu taste with a hint of peanut flavor, which was enhanced perfectly by the soy sauce. 

Sea Grapes ($68) - also known as green caviar, sea grapes are another Okinawan specialty. The sea grapes were lovely to eat as each grape burst in my mouth when I munch on them. The accompanying vinegar sauce was great for dipping the sea grapes in to eat. 

Jewel Leaf ($65) - surprisingly very good! I've never tried this before because I thought it would be a bit bland just to eat leaf so I never order it. Lined with tiny droplets of water on the surface, the leaf was very snappy and crunchy to eat! It tasted very fresh and moist at the same time. 

Stir Fried Bitter Gourd with Pork ($78) - another must-have Okinawan dish. I must confess that I'm not a big bitter gourd fan at all. The Okinawan bitter gourd tends to be firmer and crisper in texture. While the texture of the gourd was great, I thought it could have used more egg and tofu to balance out the dish. 

Okinawa Agu Pork Salad ($88) - I thought the pork would be too heavy in taste to work with a salad, but they actually went together pretty well! The pork was thinly sliced which was flavorful to eat. Tossed with Japanese sesame dressing, the entire salad tasted light and appetizing to eat. 
Snapper Carpaccio ($138) - the sashimi in the CWB branch was always a delight and the same goes for this branch as well. The snapper carpaccio here was very fresh and delicious to eat! Drizzled with a tart lemon sauce, the carpaccio was flavorful and refreshing. 
Fried Squid Ink Okinawan Noodles ($82) - apparently this is one of the more popular dish, but I could not really taste the squid ink in the noodles. Actually there wasn't much flavor in the noodles at all. 

Fried Rice with Squid Ink ($82) - the fried rice was much better than the noodles in my opinion. The rice was flavorful and slightly salty, albeit the egg on top was a tad overcooked to mix with the rice.
Deep Fried Okinawa Chicken Drums ($88) - they had a whole special menu dedicated to Okinawa chicken at the LKF branch. The chicken drumsticks were deep-fried so they were nice and crunchy to eat! It also came with Okinawa powder salt, which enhanced the flavors as well. 
Grilled Okinawa Beef ($230) - the beef was very very yummy! Nicely grilled, the beef was soft and tender while the fat just melted in my mouth. Would be even better if the temperature was hotter when it arrived.
Okinawa Beef Skewers ($165) - the beef skewers were scrumptious as well as the beef used was just very nice! Again, it was soft, tender, fatty and juicy all at the same time. 

Okinawa Sea Salt Ice Cream ($40) - the ice cream was alright as the salty flavor was not that strong. I could only taste it as an aftertaste on my tongue. 

Overall, I think the main classic Okinawa dishes were nicely executed at the same level as the CWB branch. The yakitori have room to improve though as some of the dishes were a bit overseasoned. Their ambiance was also a bit mixed as they were playing Katy Perry and other pop songs which didn't really match the traditional Japanese decor. I guess they are trying to cater to the LKF crowd but it's neither here or there right now. There was a table full of Japanese men sitting in the booth next to us who were really enjoying themselves. Perhaps they should stick to a more traditional Japanese environment like the CWB branch to further differentiate from the other bars in the area.

Shop E, 4/F, Ho Lee Commercial Building, 38-44 D'Aguilar Street, Lan Kwai Fong, Central
3102 2255

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