29 November 2023

Raku named best Asian restaurant ... and teases a second venue

| Lucy Ridge
Hao Chen

Hao Chen is the founder of Raku Dining. Photo: Raku Dining.

Canberra restaurants were big winners at the National Restaurant and Catering Awards in Sydney, with two ‘best of’ wins going to local restaurants and a smattering of other awards coming to the capital.

The Restaurant and Catering awards are judged on “hard work, exceptional food and outstanding service” in several categories across metropolitan and regional areas. Venues must be a member of the association to be eligible for awards.

Raku won a gold medal for – a hotly contested category! Manager Nic Clarke says they have won many awards but are still very proud to have taken out the gold.

“This award is really judged by your peers, as opposed to a people’s choice award, so they have a greater understanding of the challenges you face and maybe have a better idea of where you’re excelling or falling behind compared to other venues,” he told Region.

Group of men holding an award in front of branded background

A team from Raku travelled to Sydney for the awards. Photo: Raku Dining.

Chef Hao Chen explained that awards don’t influence their decisions about how they run the restaurant. In fact, when asked how he was feeling about the award, Chef Hao simply replied, “Normal!”

But he acknowledged that the awards have been really exciting for his staff, and the fact that so many medals have been awarded to Canberra restaurants is a good sign for the broader Canberra hospitality industry.

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Nic agreed.

“The dining scene in Canberra has come a long way in the last five to 10 years. I hope it’s really changing people’s perception of Canberra. We’re no longer just a public service government town,” he said.

“We’re becoming our own city, with dining options that can stand up against the big guys and hold our own on the national scene.”

sashimi platter from raku

The Raku sashimi platter is the stuff of dreams, they say. Photo: Raku Dining.

Campbell restaurant Les Bistronomes won gold for Best European Restaurant, and The Boat House took out silver in the Formal Contemporary Australian Restaurant category.

The Ginger Group won bronze in the catering category, and Bunny Beans Holt won bronze for breakfast cafe.

Chef Hao also let slip that some exciting news is on the horizon for the Raku team. They have a new venue planned for the new year!

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This restaurant will also focus on high-end Japanese dining, but unlike Raku, it will have a modern Japanese menu. Chef Hao says it will be a very different offering.

The venue will seat 150 to 200 guests, and the team has been renovating a heritage-listed building in Canberra’s north. No more details are forthcoming just yet, but watch this space!

Raku is located at Shop DG36C/148 Bunda St, Canberra. Visit Raku Dining, or follow Raku on Instagram or Facebook. Read the complete list of award winners and nominees at the Restaurant and Catering Awards website. Follow the Restaurant and Catering Awards on Instagram or Facebook for more.

Original Article published by Lucy Ridge on Riotact.

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