Showing posts with label night out. Show all posts
Showing posts with label night out. Show all posts

Akira Back (Toronto)

Despite sounding like a Justin Timberlake song, Akira Back is named after a notable American chef, who’s also the co-owner of his first Canadian restaurant. Chef Back is known to blend Japanese cuisine with other cultures; at the Toronto restaurant the tradition continues with Spanish, Korean, and Chinese influences in the dishes we sampled.

Set in the new Bisha Hotel, Akira Back’s entrance is to the left of the lobby. On the second floor, the elevator opens onto a carbon black room with a warm wood sushi bar at the very back … there’s a bit of a light at the end of the tunnel feel.

Their menu also uniquely offers the same dish at different price points, where the cost varies depending on the ingredient used. For example, an aburi can range from $17 for whitefish to $35 if it’s topped with wagyu. I like the concept, diners can find an option that’s “affordable” or, if they really enjoy aburi, order all three.

Many tables were getting the crispy pork belly maki ($14). Despite it arriving with a bottle of overly salty soy, you don’t need it, since every element of the maki is already flavourful: from the melt-in-your-mouth pork to the creamy coleslaw and a thick apple miso. Akira’s chefs don’t shy away from using a fatty piece of pork; the centre of the maki is literally a cube of well rendered fat adjoined with a shard of crispy skin. If you like suckling pig, this is it in maki form.

The baked crab hand roll ($16) also didn’t need any other condiments thanks to the lightly-spiced dynamite mayo used inside. I enjoyed the thick piece of crab leg meat against the soft rice and delicate soybean paper wrapper. While the rice itself could use more vinegar, the consistency was spot on.  

Trying to decide between the cold and hot octopus options, our waiter suggested the octopus crudo ($19). Arriving as large meaty slices, it was tender enough and had a nice natural sweetness. The minced tomato salsa on top made it messy to eat, but paired nicely with the octopus.

The only disappointing dish was the 48-hours wagyu short rib ($32): it was no different compared to a run-of-the-mill short rib, something tender to begin with. The dish was likely cooked sous vide, on the lowest possible temperature, as after 48 hours the inside was still pink. While I can’t be certain I’ve had real Japanese wagyu, what’s used at Akira can’t be it. The meat simply didn’t incorporate the intense marbling you’d expect from the ingredient – there was one very lean cube and another with a thick layer of fat – but had the fat evenly distributed.  

While a bit oily, the kimchi and bacon fried rice ($11) hit the spot… you can taste the heat from the kimchi! Paired with the cooling crudo, it’s a pretty good combination.

Akira’s desserts cater to ice cream lovers – every plate arrives with a small sphere of ice cream or gelato. However, the descriptions can be a little vague. Wanting a richer dessert, I went with the black sesame cheese cake ($12). I should have known that Japanese cheesecake is super healthy and the dish arrives with cubes of what taste like black sesame tofu. Tossed with cubes of black sesame sponge cake, even the pastry was not overly sweet. The most decadent part of the dessert was the soybean powder ice cream, which was more milky than creamy. If you want a light and not sweet dessert, this is the one to order.

Meanwhile, the apple harumaki ($12), something that sounds fruity, ended up being the heavier dessert. Caramelized apple pieces are wrapped in phyllo or soy bean wrapper and deep fried creating a sweet spring roll. It was great, especially when it’s hot, and not too indulgent despite being deep fried.

Akira Back is not authentic Japanese cuisine and the price points are higher than other Japanese fusion restaurants. Like ICONINK’s other restaurants, you go there for the ambience and a night out. This would explain why even on Tuesday the restaurant didn’t become busy until after 8pm. It’s where you go to be seen… Akira’s bringing sushi back.

Overall mark - 7 out of 10

How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 80 Blue Jays Way, 2nd floor

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Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • 6 - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
  • 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
  • 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
  • 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
  • 10 - absolute perfection!

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Akira Back Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato