Raku is Crapu

There is a restaurant in Dupont Circle that I pass often call Raku – An Asian Diner. Every time I see it, I wanna like the place. It has a cool Asian motif with red accents around the nice outdoor patio and some of the dishes are pretty good.

The only problem is that I’ve only been able to eat there twice after five tries because their service is so poor. Now I’m not talking an order error here, or a bad server there. I’m talking a full-blown systematic and structural server problem that seeming is only getting worse.

First off, Raku makes patrons wait on the sidewalk outside the patio when there are empty tables in plain view. As they don’t take reservations, they’re not waiting for anyone special, yet they will still make people wait, and the host will yell at you if you ask to be on the wait list or try to sneak a table when she is off smoking a cigarette.

Then when you’re seated, good luck with the waiter.

One I had forgot about us until I reminded him, after he passed our table several times to take orders from all the tables around us, that we were in his section and ready to order. He was then quick in bringing us our drinks, but we finally gave up on waiting for the food after an hour and left. I wonder when he finally noticed our absence? Closing time?

Another time a server took our order promptly, but then tried to serve us a whole different set of food. Now I can understand confusing vegetarian and meat jiaozi, but three bowls of soup for a tofu appetizer? Then he had the audacity to insist that we in fact, ordered three bowls of soup for two people.

Once, while sitting at the bar, I made the mistake of going to the Raku bathroom, which is in the basement next to the food storage area. That bathroom and the state of the food storage area, and both so close, made me glad I was only having drinks.

Then to top off all my Raku experiences, four of us were denied seating there recently. We were dressed right, ready to order, and had cash in our pockets, but I seem to have uttered the magic rejection words. ‘One more might be joining us’ must be code for ‘kick their asses out!’ for no sooner had I said this than the host stopped in his tracks and told us we had to wait for the fifth.

I tried to explain that we four were here and hungry. We were gonna order and eat right away, and the fifth might not even show. To top it off, the restaurant was half-empty, so the possible addition of one more would not make a difference. The host failed to see reason and outright refused to seat us. When I asked for the manger, I got the classic ‘she’s not here’ run-around.

So that’s it. That is the last straw for me. I’ll not be going back to Raku – An Asian Diner ever again. Raku really is crapu.

Raku – An Asian Diner
1900 Q St. NW, Washington, DC 20009
Phone: 202-265-7258

9 Comments so far

  1. Alex Payne (unregistered) on July 20th, 2005 @ 5:04 pm

    The one in Bethesda doesn’t have those problems. Mind, they don’t have a brilliant menu anymore, either. The place originally specialized in big street-style noodle bowls filled with dumplings, fresh sprouts, and other goodies. Now it’s just generic Asian fusion at upmarket prices. Not bad, but not interesting.

  2. L Schodts (unregistered) on July 21st, 2005 @ 4:00 am

    I’ve had the EXACT same experiences here as well though they wanted my 78 year old mother-in-law with a disability to sit on a barstool inside while the rest of us waited outside. I asked for a manager and was told, “She not here”. Given that it was empty inside no one could figure out why they wouldn’t seat us or why they had such attitude. Needless to say I’ve posted to my experience to Zaggats, Frommers and every other DC dining guide I can find.

  3. A Keller (unregistered) on July 21st, 2005 @ 3:37 pm

    I had food there on two occasions recently. The recipes are pretty interesting but the execution is poor. One can clearly see why: the assembly by the cooks is slapdash and inattentive, and food is overcooked. So the flavor is off and unsatisfying and the texture of the overcooked parts is poor. My service was good both times, but I got the same asian waiter, and generally tip decently. I did like that they had Sapporo Ichiban on tap.

  4. Joseph LeBlanc (unregistered) on July 24th, 2005 @ 12:19 am

    I walked in one Saturday afternoon and almost seated myself. The food was okay and my waiter was reasonably attentive. I was thinking of trying it again, but after these reports, I dunno…

  5. Lacoste (unregistered) on July 24th, 2005 @ 12:36 am

    > I did like that they had Sapporo Ichiban on tap.

    hmm, that might get me to actually go in once .. maybe during the afternoon when they definitely aren’t crowded.


  6. wayan (unregistered) on July 24th, 2005 @ 12:37 am

    Of course you almost seated yourself – that’s how fast the staff reacts to folks looking to sit. I think a three-toed sloth sat himself there without them knowing.

  7. Kate (unregistered) on August 9th, 2005 @ 4:34 pm

    If you like Raku but hate the service, I strongly encourage the carry-out option. Their Dan Dan noodles in broth, crepe chicken salad and marinated portobello appetizer are great, and worth the trip.

  8. Mason (unregistered) on September 26th, 2005 @ 2:04 pm

    Couldn’t agree more with your review. Raku has a great location in the heart of Dupont, but the food is inconsistent and the service is abysmal.

  9. RAE FEMME (unregistered) on October 14th, 2005 @ 1:56 pm

    Bummer for you all that have not enjoyed the food. I find everything to be quite wonderful and avoid the service issue by ordering take out!

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