RAKU Asian Dining in Bethesda, Maryland offers gluten and soy free sushi options!


If you live in the DC Metro Area and are gluten free, you are in luck!  The Bethesda location of RAKU Asian Dining is a wonderful option for gluten-free sushi.  At the bottom of the menu, "Gluten Free Tamari Available By Request" is clearly printed in bold.  However, the restaurant does not have a dedicated gluten free menu (for more information on ordering sushi safely, please read my previous article on the matter).  I was told to speak with my server on a dish-by-dish basis to evaluate it's status.

My server that day was a gentleman named "Pong" who was very polite, attentive and accommodating.  He was very knowledgeable on what was safe but on the few things he wasn't sure of, he gladly went to talk to the chef before I placed my order.  Surprisingly, the cornmeal crusted calamari was not safe, nor were the buckwheat noodles - apparently both are made with some wheat.  There was a pumpkin soup that was safe as well as many sushi options.  I didn't mention my soy intolerance, only my gluten intolerance, because A) I did not confuse poor Pong even more and B) I was going to avoid everything with gluten in it anyway, that would include all their soy based sauces (with the exception of their wheat free tamari for dipping, which I simply told Pong I didn't need).

I recommend the Nigiri Sushi Appetizer (ask for no sauce on the eel to make it safe) and the Double Salmon Roll, which comes topped with an awesome spicy mango sauce.  It was so good, I ordered 2 of those!  Both pair well with the refreshing, not-too-sweet Peach Iced Tea.   The portion sizes are decent, the food presentation is very nice and the restaurant decor was eclectic and fun.

This restaurant has only three faults that I could find.  First, parking, which of course is an issue in general in Bethesda.  Second, and a major issue in my opinion, is the lack of a waiting area.  One is forced to stand pressed against the wall behind the hostess table or in the entry way as other patrons squeese by you.  Finally, this place can get very busy.  I luckily went right when they opened at 5:00 pm and was given a roomy booth and were well paid attention to, however, when I left around 6:30 pm, the restaurant was packed full and was pretty noisy.  For our gluten free needs, I would highly recommend going early to better assure helpful and attentive service.

A menu and contact information can be found on their website.

 

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