17 August 2021

Bittersweet week for Canberra's top restaurant winners

| Dominic Giannini
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Raku kitchen

Raku won Restaurant and Catering’s best restaurant award in the ACT. Photo: Supplied.

It has been a bittersweet week for some of Canberra’s most popular restaurants – lockdown was announced just days after the Restaurant and Catering Awards for Excellence were handed out.

Raku in the city was named Canberra’s restaurant of the year and the city’s best Asian restaurant.

Hao Chen, the sushi chef for the sleek and modern Japanese restaurant – who also won restauranteur of the year – appreciated the recognition from Canberrans, saying the community encouraged him and the team to continually improve their services.

“As a young business, this award encourages Raku to move forward to become a leading business in the hospitality industry and become an important part of Canberra’s restaurant map,” he said.

Hao, who was originally studying to become a programmer before choosing sushi over software, came to Australia in 2008 after gaining experience with Japanese cuisine in China.

READ ALSO Help for businesses hit by lockdown measures

But as Canberra’s lockdown continues, the chef says his main concern is for his staff as the restaurant shuts for the lockdown. Raku won’t be offering takeaway services at this stage, although a small selection may become available in the future, depending on how long the lockdown lasts.

“It is a tough time, but the dawn will come,” he said. “The team will love to stay together and provide better services to all Canberrans and customers from all over Australia.

“There is still a lot to do, and we will keep improving.”

Daana in Curtin, which has won the best Indian restaurant award for the third year in a row, was preparing for a celebratory weekend as emails and congratulations from guests continued to roll in.

But for only the second time, Daana has moved to take away and delivery after new restrictions started last Thursday (12 August).

Sunjay and Sunita Kumar

Sunjay and Sunita Kumar have been recognised for their outstanding food for the third year in a row. Photo: Daana.

Daana’s chef and co-owner Sanjay Kumar said Daana is offering free delivery to senior citizens and delivering to the local area as it did during the last lockdown in April 2020.

Locals will also be able to sample a new weekly takeaway menu if the lockdown is extended.

“The award was a great win for the entire team. It shows that we have confidence from our guests,” Mr Kumar told Region Media.

“[Thursday] was our first night of takeaway, and the community’s support has been a great motivator.”

READ ALSO Raku: refining and redefining traditional Japanese cuisine

Daana won the consumer vote award and best tourism restaurant while Sunita Kumar was a finalist for best chef.

Canberra’s best chef award went to OTIS Dining Hall’s Damian Brabender. Hotel Realm was named best caterer.

A full list of this year’s winners is available at Restaurant & Catering.

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