Liberty Village hipsters don't have to travel far to find quality sushi any longer. Of course, the locals know exactly where to look, but if you're not careful, you may walk right by Raaw Japanese and never realize it.
Tucked away in the mini-city that is Liberty Village, Raaw is a new, boutique-style sushi restaurant and a welcome addition to the ever-evolving King West area.
It opened in July 2009 and seats 40. Besides the seven funky chandeliers hanging from the ceiling, you won't
find much as far as decoration is concerned. No tacky framed pictures of salmon or tuna on the walls, not even a mirror. In fact, the powers-that-be at Raaw have opted to take a minimalist attitude, preferring to add to the decor and ambiance as the year progresses.
Once seated, the personable staff educates me on the subtleties of each signature dish. Considering both chefs worked at world-renowned Nobu, there are several. I'm expecting the sushi to be extremely fresh, prepared with exceptional attention to detail. I'm not disappointed.
If you're like me and enjoy beginning your meal with a kick, go with Spicy Tartar. Choose between spicy tuna, yellowtail or salmon with fishroe, tempura flakes and sushi rice in layers with house spicy sauce. Yellowtail Jalapeno features fresh, thinly sliced, seared yellowtail, topped with jalapeno pepper, cilantro oil and ponzu sauce. The aroma grabs my attention immediately and the Yellowtail tastes fantastic. However, the jalapeno pepper may have been sliced too thin and as a result, didn't add the kick I expected and hoped for.
Summer Fresh combines hot, cold, sweet and spicy flavours well. The orange at the base, along with the orange peel silhouette rising above it, easily and obviously add a unique and citrusy twist to a dish that lives up to its name. We finish our meal with Very Raaw, an entree that means business as far as quality and taste are concerned. White tuna, salmon, yellowtail, more tuna, kani, tempura bits, avocado, spicy sauce all come together to provide a wow factor.
Raaw Japanese caters primarily to Liberty locals. However, with its fresh approach and exceptional quality, the potential to grow beyond its Liberty Village borders looks promising.
Price: Inexpensive. Two appetizers and two entrees range between $55-$65.
Atmosphere: Minimalist, room to grow.
Hint: Go with the several signature dishes available. You will see and taste the difference.
Wine and Spirits: Limited but expected to grow.
Reservations: Optional, but not necessary.
Wheelchair Access: Yes.
Surprise Surprise: The extra 'A' in Raaw was added because it's believed the name looked better aesthetically with the extra vowel.