SWEETS RAKU

There were so many highlights of our latest Vegas trip -- which was the best one yet -- but this one takes the cake. A friend of ours, who lived and worked in Vegas for six years, introduced us to Sweets Raku. Since it was off The Strip, we decided to have dinner nearby. But it turned out to be much further than we'd thought.

One $50 cab ride later, we arrived at Eatt. We'd wanted to slip in some healthier food amongst all our dessert binges. We ordered the salmon and the vegan vegetable dish to share. The food was better than expected, but not worth the ride out. Thankfully, the dishes were small so we could move on to the star of the show: dessert.

We popped into Sweets Raku thinking that there would be a line. I guess we were early, so we were able to grab two seats at the bar. The store's concept is all-white, bright, clean furnishing. The main focus is, of course, the open kitchen. Patrons seated at the bar have a front-row seat to watch the pastry chefs make their desserts.

Japanese desserts are truly one-of-a-kind. If you've never had Japanese cheesecake, you're in for a treat, but I digress. All the Japanese sweets I've ever had, from Japan, Hong Kong, Hawaii, have been exceptional, so I had a feeling the desserts here wouldn't disappoint.

They have a distinctive menu with the craziest desserts, but since I couldn't have most of them, we ordered everything else that was sans-gelatin.

First off were the cookies. They had about ten different selections, but only two appealed to our tastes: chocolate orange and praline. These aren't ordinary cookies -- they literally crumble as you bite into them. Since these were the only "nonperishable" dessert they had, we left with two bags of cookies for the road.

The macarons followed, but disappointed. The flavors were a bit odd for our liking: matcha/red bean, mango/chocolate, and vanilla/honey. I personally did not enjoy the flavor pairings at all. Plus, the texture of their macarons was too moist and chewy.

Aside from the customers' desserts, the pastry chefs were whipping up some other off-the-menu goodies, such as croissants and fruit tarts.

I was seated directly in front of their oven, so I couldn't resist a flaky croissant. Had I skipped dinner, I most certainly would've gotten a chocolate one, too. Let's just say that this is the most scrumptious croissant I've had outside of Paris.

The final two desserts were prepared right before our eyes. I've always been fascinated with pastries -- they just seem like the most challenging things to prepare. Sure, Michelin meals are unforgettable, but between you and me, I care significantly more about the desserts.

We ordered the Mount Fuji, a sponge cake topped with sweet cream and chestnut cream. I would deem this to be the most Asian-influenced item on the menu. Though it might turn some of you off, it's essentially a soft vanilla cake topped with whipped cream and minuscule chestnut cubes. The spaghetti-looking cream has a hint of chestnut, but I promise, it's not overpowering.

I didn't want the night to end. We were sampling the best array of desserts, and we'd finally come to our last one: the cream puff. Honestly, cream puffs aren't my favorite thing in the world. The cream is almost always too heavy.

Somehow, Chef Mio created such a rich and decadent puff pastry with the most cloud-like cream and tangy strawberry jam sandwiched in between. It was gone in a matter of seconds.

Samuel and I take our desserts ridiculously seriously, and we were incredibly pleased with Sweets Raku. Very few places ever make the cut for a second visit, but I would live here if I could. I'm a sucker for presentation and quality, and they really hit all the marks here.

If you find yourself in Vegas, I highly recommend passing on dinner and heading straight to Sweets Raku.

 

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