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Sushi pops in peaceful setting
Raku Sushi & Asian Cuisine is tucked inside the Riverwood Shopping Center on Nova Road in Port Orange between a frame shop and the future Goodwill thrift store. The atmosphere is relaxed, casual and friendly. Recently, Daytona Beach News-Journal Staff Writer Victoria Aldrich and friend Mike Ramsey shared dinner there.
Q. Describe the place.
This quietly elegant restaurant serves Japanese, Thai and Vietnamese dishes with a New York flair on a Daytona Beach budget. It blends low lighting, dark wooden furniture and softly piped modern music without the usual garish decorations.
Q. What’s on the menu?
A full selection of sushi, sashimi and all sorts of chicken, beef, pork and fish appetizers including gyoza (dumplings ), tempura and Japanese fried rice. The lunch menu includes bento boxes, chicken sandwiches and pad thai dishes. Drinks include an assortment of hot and cold teas, regular and French press coffees, sake and saketinis. Dinner is a selection of pad thai dishes, chicken, steak and fish recipes served with vegetables and jasmine rice.
Q. How was it?
I was intrigued when owners The and Anne Nguyen opened this restaurant because several restaurants had gone out of business there. We waited for several months to visit Raku, and it was worth every minute.
The hostess immediately seated us in a booth near a small waterfall. We marveled at the simple decor, which proves the virtues of microplanning and good taste.
Every detail is attractive and understated, from the swirls of color above the ceiling light fixtures to the white square dishes and the booths, which are just tall enough to muffle outside conversation. Even the tiny red sake menus on each table perfectly complement the colorful food.
The sushi chef works in front of patrons in an immaculate, eye-catching bubble-shaped booth that made me feel more as if we were in Tokyo than a Florida strip mall.
Our server, Jinky, was cheerful but didn’t hover over us, letting us eat in peace.
The food was meticulously prepared. We started with a miso soup with scallions, tofu and seaweed ($2) that was the thickest and tastiest I’ve ever eaten. The green iced tea ($2) was delicious.
Though we are both small eaters, we splurged on a huge Thai beef salad ($8) with carrots, greens, a sweet basil aioli sauce and a delicately flavored mayonnaise-based dressing that perfectly complemented the tender meat.
For dinner, Mike thoroughly enjoyed his chicken udon bowl with baby bok choy, carrots and bean sprouts ($10). It was big enough for three people. Luckily, he was man enough for the task.
I ordered the green curry chicken with rice and the aptly named snake beans ($13). The tender chunks tasted like coconut and spice, and it easily was one of the best meals I have ever eaten.
For dessert, we split a delicious Vietnamese bananas Foster that paired a dollop of vanilla ice cream with spiced bananas fried in pastries ($4). It was an innovative end to a perfect meal.
$45.80 plus tip.
Raku Sushi & Asian Cuisine
WHERE: 4001 S. Nova Road, Port Orange
ACCESSIBILITY: Ample parking is available in front. The restaurant is handicapped-accessible.
HOURS: 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 5 to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 4 to 10 p.m. Saturday and Sunday
MISCELLANEOUS: Lunch includes bento boxes, chicken sandwiches, fish and pad thai, $6 to $11. A dinner menu features varied Asian cuisine, $9 to $22. A wide variety of sushi and sashimi is served. Take-out available; cash or major credit cards accepted
PHONE: (386) 788-4150
Thank you News Journal !!
I feel like I just got a day off !!~