Raw Eatery & Wood Grill is one of the latest restaurant openings to hit the Jing’an district, occupying the 2nd floor space of the now defunct La Stazione.
Many thanks to Social Cloud China for the media invite.
Contrary to what their name suggests, Raw Eatery is not about raw foods. In fact, their name is somewhat misleading, because where Raw Eatery really excel at, are in their cooked foods from their Josper Oven.
A Josper is a unique type of high temperature charcoal fueled oven created in Spain, that combines oven and grilling features. Their unique characteristics allow food to be grilled and roasted quickly at high temperatures, shortening the usual required cooking times, while getting that amazing smokey charcoal flavour. There are only a handful of Josper ovens being used in China as I was told, and Raw Eatery has one of them.
The space of the restaurant isn’t very big, but the interior designers have done a splendid job in creating a warm, cozy atmosphere. A bar counter stands main stage, as one walks past the dry-age beef cabinet at the entrance — A sign of good things to come.
The restaurant sits about 50 patrons comfortably, with a large private table on the side that sits up to 10.
I liked that the decor had a bit of a rustic feel, while still remaining modern. 8/10
As with invited tastings, an un-biased score of 7.5 is given. What I observed was that service was very attentive towards other customers, aside from ourselves.
Although Raw Eatery claims to be a Spanish restaurant, I found that the cuisine served would be more appropriately classified as modern South American, with influences from other cuisines.
House Bread & Flavoured Butters (28 rmb)
We started with some house bread, toasted in their Josper oven for a lovely smokey flavour. The crust was crisp while still soft and pillowy within. What truly elevated the house bread, were the unique house-made butters that were paired.
I especially enjoyed the seaweed & garlic infused butter for it’s pungent garlicky goodness and subtle umami. The other butter was touted as smoked and salted, but unfortunately I didn’t detect much smokiness. That said, the bread and butter is actually a menu item, and is good enough for a score of its own. 8/10
Oysters (328rmb / dozen)
Next up were some oysters from Normandy. Freshly imported, the oysters tasted light and ‘crisp’, sliding down our throats effortlessly. 8/10
Buratta on top of smoked tomatoes, creamy avocado and dressed with a truffle dressing. In reality, it was garnished with ‘ice leaves’, some sort of avocado infused cream and sprinkled with alot of black bits. I believe the black bits were meant to be truffled crumble from the josper oven, unfortunately, they tasted like charred bits. The buratta was the star of the show of course, and deservedly so in it’s creamy texture and milky flavours. Paired with the lightly smoked tomatoes, the buratta and tomatoes were as usual, a match made in heaven.
The avocado cream sauce helped to add an additional dimension of richness to the flavours. That said, I thought the dish really didn’t need the black bits at all and was ‘dirtied’ by them. I also felt that the price of this dish didn’t quite match it’s quality nor quantity. 7.5/10
Chilean Wagyu Beef Tartare (128rmb)
Served in cute little tins — one containing the beef with an egg yolk, the other containing the condiments. Served with house-made fries and thin slices of toast.
Once the obligatory photos have been taken, the server would proceed to mix up the tartare for you, table side.
This dish is one of those things that show that less is more, and that if good quality ingredients are used, you don’t have to do too much to make a great dish.
The simple house-made fries were delicious and had nice potato flavours.
The beef was fresh and had a subtle beef flavour, but not to the extent of gamey or foul. Together with the condiments, the beef tartare achieved a nice balance of tart and savoury flavours. All in all, a very well done and fairly priced beef tartare. 8/10
Smoked Yellowtail Tiradito (98rmb)
Purple Causa, spicy mango sorbet. Causa is a type of peruvian food, and is essentially a gnocchi-like dumpling, normally made with mashed potatoes. The ones served here were made with purple sweet potatoes. The fish didn’t taste fishy — a sign of freshness, and were lightly ‘cooked’ in the acidic sauce.
Fried corn kernel bits not only added crunch to the otherwise soft and mushy textures, but also raised the flavour profiles with their nutty flavours.
This dish had beautiful elements of color, tastes and textures, earning it a solid 9/10
Egg 63 (78rmb)
Boletus, chanterelle, shiitake mushrooms and iberico ham crumbs.
During my research, prior to visiting, I noticed that this was one of the more popular dishes amongst diners who reviewed. Naturally, it was one of the dishes that I anticipated the most.
As you might already have guessed, Egg 63 is sous vide egg dish.
Interestingly, it was served on a plate, as opposed to being served in a bowl. The dish contained 3 different types of mushrooms, with some minced iberico ham and more of the black crumbs that I really hated. Plating-wise, It wasn’t exactly a pretty looking dish.
Taste wise, it was full of umami. Too full of umami, in my opinion. This dish suffered a case of too-much-of-a-good-thing syndrome.
Sure, the mushrooms were pack full of flavour, and the egg was cooked just nice and semi-runny.
However, all I could taste was a muddle of mushroom flavours; Unable to taste the freshness of the egg yolk, nor discern the individual flavours of the chantarelles.
I ended up stopping after 2 bites, because I could feel myself getting very cloying. The black bits didn’t help either.
How would I have enjoyed this more? I probably would enjoy this dish more, if it had another element of flavour that would contrast against the mushrooms to help ease the richness. Something pickled perhaps. For now, unfortunately, I did not enjoy this dish. 6.5/10
Smoked Rougie Foie Gras (118rmb)
Yuzu dressing, sauteed spinach.
Foie Gras! Another one of everyone’s favourite buzz words. At 118rmb, it was a fair price for a hefty chunk.
Unfortunately, it seemed like they overdid the grilling of the foie that evening, resulting in quite a firm bite and a very strong taste. The foie gras that I’m accustomed to, has a light and soft texture, with a rich, yet delicate taste, that gently dissolves in the mouth.
Such was not the case in the smoked foie gras at Raw. The spinach was a little greasy, and didn’t help to alleviate the richness of the foie. Pity. 6/10
Entrana Thin Skirt 250g (358rmb)
The beef is Chilean free range Wagyu.
Now, this was the first time I’ve heard of Chilean Wagyu, so I was quite looking forward to the meat, albeit holding my expectations low.
358 RMB for a 250g skirt steak is considered expensive, but if it truly possesses the qualities of wagyu, furthermore, grilled in a Josper oven, then it definitely is a very fair price.
So what was the verdict?
It was Wagyu beef from Chile. Superbly marbled throughout the muscle, yet packing with the full beefy flavour, characteristic of south American beef. Chilean wagyu is possibly my new favourite type of beef. The meat was done perfectly medium rare, and had a nice smokey flavour imparted from the Josper oven. It was a shame that the exterior wasn’t as charred and crusted as I like my steaks to be. Nevertheless, the quality of the meat more than makes up for any other flaw. 9/10
Josper Baked Cauliflower (28rmb)
Crisp yet, cooked cauliflower, smoked by the Josper oven. Very nice, if not for the black bits.
Mixed Tomato Salad, Fresh Oregano, Shallot Vinaigrette (28rmb)
Nice variety of cherry and heirloom tomatoes. Fresh, sweet, refreshing and well dressed.
Josper Baked Potatoes, Smoked Dressing, Eggplant Aioli (28rmb)
Good quality floury potatoes, well cooked by the Josper oven but marred by the charred bits sauce. Yes, I really dislike the black bits.
Banana Split (68rmb)
The banana split brought me back to childhood days with its simplicity. Whipped cream with various flavours of ice cream, lightly grilled banana and sunflower seeds. It had lots of textures and flavours going on, while looking pretty. Good stuff. 8.5/10
New restaurants rarely start off perfect, and it’s perfectly normal to have some dishes that require tweaking. All in all, I was very pleased with many of the dishes, and they showed off the great potential that Raw Eatery & Wood Grill has.