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Restaurant Review: Akira Back’s New Menu Plays With Japanese Flavours

Japanese, Korean and American influences come together in this culinary adventure

Photo: Akira Back

If you call yourself a Japanese food aficionado, you need to be on top of the cuisine’s evolution. And an exciting place to taste the adventure is Akira Back, led by Michelin-starred chef Akira Back. The restaurant has long made its name in modern Japanese fusion, putting a fresh spin on culinary traditions. The restaurant’s bold reinvention of Japanese cuisine continues with the new Signature Flavours menu.

We were impressed by the creativity when we sampled the new menu at the restaurant, located in JW Marriott Hotel South Beach. Everything from the fresh ingredients to the gorgeous presentation of the food showcases a great attention to detail, to create a memorable experience for diners.

Hirame Carpaccio ($27)

Our starter immediately told us that we were in for a unique treat. We had the Hirame Carpaccio ($27), which began our meal on a very aesthetically pleasing note. Hirame, a fish commonly served as nigiri sushi or sashimi in Japanese restaurants, is presented in the traditional Italian carpaccio style. This twist on presentation may not seem like much, and we will admit, we thought, “Sure, it looks pretty, but what does it add to the taste?”

A lot, we found out. This plating style allows the fish to soak up a good amount of the invigorating sauces, made from sweet nanbanzu vinegar, shallots, and jalapeno peppers. It definitely woke up our palates and senses!

A4 “Tochigi” Striploin ($68)

It’s difficult for us to name a favourite dish from Akira Back’s new menu – they are all so good – but if we had to pick, it would be this A4 “Tochigi” Striploin ($68). Fluffy Japanese rice is topped with tender slices of premium A4 wagyu beef marbled just right – look at the juicy streaks of fat! We love our meats with a little charred edge, so the sweet applewood and garlicky smokiness really hit the spot for us.

Seared Diver Scallops ($38)

Going back to the sea, the Seared Diver Scallops ($38) is also a must-try dish in our book. The expert chefs used a blowtorch to sear the scallop pieces on the spot, giving the sides a very nice crunch to go perfectly with the chewy texture of meaty centre. Even more different flavours come into play here, as the scallops are paired with savoury bits of caviar, sour yuzu sauce and sweet yellow kiwi slices. Super refreshing and great for any time of the day!

Grilled Alaskan King Crab ($42)

Those who love crab should not miss the Grilled Alaskan King Crab ($42), which tastes as exquisite as it looks. It is a gooey and creamy burst of the seafood delicacy, infused in a tangy dynamite sauce and lathered with pickled shimeji mushrooms. Scoop it all into your mouth right from the shell and get ready for a wonderfully fresh taste of the sea!

Yukhoe ($45)

Taking a break from the hot plates, we move on to a cold dish that really showcases a marriage of Korean and Japanese flavours. Chef Akira Back dips into his Korean roots for Yukhoe ($45) – on top of being born in South Korea, he opened his acclaimed DOSA restaurant that gave him his Michelin star in Seoul. A traditional yet unconventional dish of South Korea, yukhoe is a seasoned raw meat (often beef) dish topped with egg, basically like a Korean version of beef tartare.

The yukhoe we tried at Akira Back was not initially laid out like a tartare, though – more like gunkan sushi! The star of the dish, the Tajima wagyu striploin, also adds a Japanese twist to the Korean classic. Instead of marinating or garnishing the beef with pear slices, as yukhoe is often prepared, the wagyu striploin is wrapped in thin slices of nashi pear, bringing a refreshing sweetness to mix with the savoury meat. Then, we are invited to cut and mash it all up – mix the beef with the sesame soy, quail egg yolk and seaweed caviar toppings – like a traditional Korean yukhoe!

Crispy Tofu ($25)

A vegetarian option that also melds Korean and Japanese influences, the Crispy Tofu ($25) will be a hit among fans of spicy food. Chef Akira Back captures the delectable crispy fried outside yet chewy soft inside that we love of the classic Japanese agedashi tofu, while giving it a twist with the seasoning. Thanks to Korean red pepper paste and a sprinkle of lime, the tofu packs a moderate heat.

Beehive ($18)

Chef Akira Back doesn’t hold back on dessert, either. The Beehive ($18) is a visual definition of playful in a whimsical way, drawing out the diner’s childlike curiosity wondering what on Earth could possibly be hidden inside that hive-shaped cloud of meringue. The play is participative, too. With a few cracks of the spoon, we uncovered the mystery, revealing a gushing stream of fresh mango cream and lime sorbet. All the different sweet and tangy flavours blend together to create a wonderful tropical treat.

Diners eager to try more adventurous fusion delights can also order older favourites that remain on the Akira Back menu, such as the AB Tacos ($25) and Tuna Pizza ($26). These Western grub classics are elevated Japanese-style; think taco shells filled with tender wagyu galbi and ponzu sauce, and pizza as slices of truffle oil-doused tuna on super-thin tortilla crust.

How does Chef Akira Back come up with so many innovative dishes and flavours? If you are just as in awe of the chef as we are after tasting his creations, don’t miss the chance to meet the man himself and ask him your questions! Chef Akira Back will be in Singapore from 23 to 26 April for the World Gourmet Summit 2019, hosting lunch and dinner as part of the World Gourmet Summit Masterchef Dining Delights series. Reserve your table for a meal here!

Address: 30 Beach Road, JW Marriott Hotel South Beach, Level B1M, Singapore 189763
Contact No.: 6818 1914
Website: https://www.akiraback.com/
Opening Hours: Lunch from 12pm to 2:30pm daily; Dinner from 6pm to 10pm Sundays to Thursdays, 6pm to 10:30pm on Fridays and Saturdays. Brunch from 12pm to 3pm on weekends.