Sunday, June 27, 2010

Akasaka Japanese Restaurant

Akasaka Japanese Restaurant (280 West Beaver Creek Road, Richmond Hill, Ontario)

Food first, nom nom nom.

Miso soup and salad. Tea was served while we were sifting through the menu.
Jo mentioned that the tea tasted leafy like green tea ice cream. I didn't get the 'like green tea ice cream' bit, but I noticed that it didn't smell as strong as other teas that I'm used to being served in Japanese restaurants. That being said, it didn't lack in taste nor do I feel that it was watered down. Miso was standard with tofu chunks and seaweed bits. The dressing on the salad was subtle and light in colour. There was a small chunk of orange at the bottom which was nice after a mini conversation about lettuce tasting like shit in general. 

Sake almontini
The flower was pretty. A small sip was enough to note the very strong almond taste. The drink was sweet and it reminded me of the Chinese almond soup dessert, but less thick. The alcohol taste was very minor. It was a great drink, but I don't think it went very well with my choice of food.

Akasaka boat.
A 36-piece combination of the chef's choice of sushi and sashimi. Deliciousness! Sashimi was great. I was particularly impressed with the tuna that just melted in my mouth. I liked the rainbow roll, which had mango, avocado, and salmon inside. The sizes of the nigri were perfect one-bite pieces with a good amount of rice. I liked that there were some special pieces on the boat, including the uni, the tobiko, and the saba roe. The octopus slices were good and not too chewy. The hardest part about splitting the boat was deciding on who would get which of the 'special' pieces as they didn't come in pairs.

Me: Why are you eating all the special pieces first?
Jo: So you don't eat them. 

The shell with dry ice at the front of the boat was super cool. The vapours were flowing out of it for a while, and it created some steamy fog around our food. Very neat presentation.

The flying fish roe was so crunchy. It was pretty awesome.

Being pleased with the quality of the food, we ordered an additional Acme roll. It came out looking like a mini dragon with its head cut off.
It's a giant, cooked prawn shrimp wrapped in a thin sheet of beef with truffle paste and gold flakes on top. The truffle paste was very strong tasting, and it reminded me of a mushroom-flavoured, olive tapenade. The shrimp was very plump and nicely cooked. 

Expresso crème brûlée and green tea crème brûlée.
The green tea one was very creamy, and the burnt sugar top to both of them were thin. My expresso dessert had more of a soft ice cream consistency, and it wasn't very bitter. It was enjoyable.

Setting: The restaurant is nicely decorated. I enjoyed the mini zen garden sake display near the entrance, but I wasn't a huge fan of the red chairs. The atmosphere is casual enough, and there were lots of children on a Saturday night. People were present and chatting.

The place is divided by glass windows into two sections: normal seating and teppenyaki tables. I liked how I could see some of the excitement from the teppenyaki tables without actually being seated in that section.

The restaurant is dimly lit, and there are candles on the tables. Jo said it seemed very romantic... then our sashimi and sushi boat came out with two roses in the centre. I had to laugh.

Variety and options: The menu is full of options. The drinks and food are combined into one menu, and I spent a good amount of time just staring at the drinks section. There's a pretty good selection of sake and sake cocktails.

On that particular day, there was a set dinner with several lobster dishes. It looked pretty interesting, but we weren't sure what "lobster illusion" was. Jo joked that it was fake lobster.

Sifting through the menu was a daunting task. There were some really interesting items under the New Wave Maki and New Tidal Wave Maki headings, including Lobster-Licious, Hamachi Supreme, Crown Royal, and Super Rainbow. Others such as Green & Brown just sounded terribly-named. There was also a whole page featuring wagyu beef items. Wagyu beef sashimi is an option, but not for the unemployed. There are plenty of noodle or cooked food options (e.g. teppenyaki, teriyaki, tempura, various rolls) for those who don't eat raw fish.

Service: Service was good overall. All of the staff was pretty pleasant. My one gripe was when we were waiting for an awkwardly long time at the front to be seated. We were standing there, and though many of the staff (and customers) saw us, none made a motion to greet us. It was long enough for Jo to get bored and start going towards the sake display. Things were much better after a friendly gentleman in a chef's uniform brought us to our table.

Would I return? Weird wait to be seated aside, I'd like to go back and try some of the meat and lobster dishes and perhaps the udon, but it will be a difficult choice knowing how good the sashimi is. I'd also like to try the other sake cocktails as I thoroughly enjoyed the one I had. There are so many options that I think I could go back several times without getting bored of the restaurant.

Total damage: $105.54 for two. My wallet feels so empty, but my stomach felt so pleasantly full.

Keep checking Jo's site for her review.

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