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The first time I went to Raku, it was still Yakitori Yakiyudori, and I was pregnant. It had the vibe of the tiny izakayas from my years in Japan - minus the cigarette smoke and the drunken old Japanese men (it is, after all, in Hillcrest) - and I vowed to return as soon as I was able to partake in the drinking. But then I forgot all about it. Until recently.

Last week, S agreed to meet met me at Raku for dinner. Although the dingy, casual atmosphere of the establishment's former life was gone, the Japanese tapas-style menu still fed my inner nostalgia-monster. I love the drink-up-and-order-as-we-go-along that this kind of menu makes possible. And because S is always game for anything, she was the perfect companion.

None

No, we did not order the deep-fried chicken cartilage or grilled liver that my be-polite gene forced me partake of as a foreigner living abroad, but I was happy to see them on the menu.

Grilled beef ($5.00) and grilled shitake mushrooms ($4.50). Two Sapporos ($4.00 each, on draft). Then two more Sapporos. Roast duck with teriyaki sauce ($12.00) and brown rice Parmesan cheese risotto ($9.00).

We stuffed ourselves.

Then when we ordered the mochi, we thought we'd ask for one mango, one strawberry ($4.50 for two), though we ended up with two of each.

Next time, I’ll ask for my mochi without the whipped cream and chocolate sauce.

And next time, too, maybe I’ll test S’s Be-Polite gene and order something a little more...adventurous.

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