In the early 1990s, no self-respecting cosmopolitan would have placed a manicured finger on anything sold from a street cart.
Years later, snooty magazine food critics make a living off reviewing the stuff, and suits everywhere can be seen shamelessly cramming sakoo and falafel on city street corners. Who knew everyday street food would become a culinary craze?
Mark Miller, that's who.
In 1995, Miller opened Raku, Japanese for comfort or pleasure, and billed it as an asian diner.
"He started with the intent of trying to imitate the street food that is so popular in Asia," said current owner Marcell The. "The idea was 'simple, easy, in and out' ... but the concept has evolved since then."
The primary influence of the pan-Asian menu is now Japanese, and a full sushi bar is prominently featured in its expansive dining area.
Although Raku now offers a more upscale take on Asian street food, it stays faithful to to its name -- comfort is still its focus. The sleekly presented dishes come in large portions and are made with fresh ingredients. Like the food, the atmosphere is at once upscale and cozy, with cederwood floors, bamboo sconces and paper umbrella-covered fixtures that provide dramatic lighting.
Raku's fare is alreadly reasonably priced, but the lunch specials are outstanding. Try their kimchee fried rice, topped with a fried egg and served with sweet soy marinated skirt steak, for just under $9.
1900 Q St NW
Washington, DC 20009
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