Showing posts with label scallop kiwi sashimi. Show all posts
Showing posts with label scallop kiwi sashimi. Show all posts

Going back to Akira Back (Toronto)

When Chef Back visited Toronto in July, I returned to Akira Back to sample their “new” menu. My first visit to the restaurant was fine, but it wasn’t impressive. Surely things will be better when the head honcho is in town? After all, he has his name to protect.

Upon cracking open the menu, I was disappointed to see not much has changed. Indeed, a couple of dishes were added but by and large everything remained. The only surprised for the evening was a special lobster 4-ways menu for two ($100). Our waitress noted they’re testing the dishes to see if there’s interest, so what’s detailed in the post is subject to change or may be discontinued all together.

I think most of us coughed on our first sip of the lobster miso soup as we weren’t expecting it to be spicy. The initial surprise aside, the rich hot broth was delicious, the lobster legs infusing the salty and spicy soup. Plump little mushrooms were strewn throughout and a nice addition with the seafood essence.

Having had lobster sashimi a couple of times, Akira Back was the best experience - the lobster tail lightly torched to take away any gumminess, but the meat left raw and sweet. A bit of the freshly grated wasabi and house made soy sauce was all it took to flavour the dish.

The lobster tempura was okay, but since the batter was dense (where are the wispy crunchy bits of tempura?) it ended up tasting like fish sticks instead of chunks of lobster claw. Akira Back needs to work on the batter’s consistency and frying temperature of the oil as the sea urchin tempura ($18) was no better. The creamy urchin wrapped with citrusy shiso leaves was a good idea, if it weren’t for the heavy coating that completely covered the seafood.

What arrived with the fourth course seemed too small for two people - a small sliver of poached lobster with nori butter sauce. In general, this menu for two would be insufficient, tables will need to add on a couple of items to round out the meal. Perhaps a bowl of the wagyu fried rice ($14) for some grains? While it is a tad oily – not surprising with wagyu – the rice had such a great wok hay essence. It’d be even better with more scallion.

Akira’s miso black cod ($31) incorporates the traditional sweet glaze but I’ve had better (and for more reasonable prices compared to the dainty portion of fish). Regardless, it was decently prepared, the black cod having a light smokiness and the glaze slightly caramelized for an extra bit of texture. At least it was better than the wagyu short ribs I previously had; although hot izakaya dishes are not Akira’s forte.

Their cold dishes are much better. The Hokkaido scallop kiwi ($23) was no exception. Sliced raw scallops are layered with kiwi and flavoured with an onion salsa and yuzu soy. The dish is refreshingly delicious and shows restraint, so the scallop’s sweetness isn’t overtaken by the other flavours – even the onion salsa isn’t too strong, adding flavour but not sting.

With Chef Back’s visit there was also a special dessert… date ice cream with a mango mousse ($15). A plate of granita first arrives with an egg carton in tow. Our waitress proceeds to take out an “egg”: the shell made from candy; the whites a date ice cream; and the yolk mango passionfruit sorbet. Luckily, I took the picture before everything was crushed into the sweet ice, creating a dessert reminiscent of bing su. The light dessert was a beautiful and whimsical finish. Maybe things are better when Akira Back is back.

Overall mark - 7.5 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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