LSA EATS: We visited Akina, a Japanese fine dining restaurant newly nested in Bandra, Mumbai. As they give ancient Warayaki cooking methods a modern twist, here’s what we think.
Whenever one chooses to dine in a Japanese restaurant, there’s one emotion we’d expect most – Authenticity, not just in taste, but craft too. The Land Of The Rising Sun undeniably boasts a culinary ethnicity unlike any other. More so, with highly revered cooking styles. One of which, is Warayaki, a centuries-old cooking technique that harnesses flames ranging between 800 to 900 degree Celsius. What makes this trick special? The resultant dishes exult a delicate smokey flavor, however, without compromising on the deliciousness and richness of the ingredients. And this is something one should definitely look forward to when dining in a Japanese restaurant.
Transported from the heady by-lanes of Kochi prefecture – on the Southern coast of Shikoku – to the bustling streets of Bandra, this ancient art of Warayaki cooking is the shining star of the new Japanese fine dining establishment, Akina. Promising a bold approach on modern Japanese cuisine aims to instill a sense of culinary innovation yet boldly underlined with heritage from the land it comes from.
Akina Contemporary Japanese Restaurant and Bar review
In terms of decor and aesthetics, it borrows these sensibilities from the eponymous spring Japanese flower, spanning 5000 sq-ft. Their primary dining space which seats 85 guests boasts an elegant maximalist design language, bold and audaciously embracing its homeland’s signature aesthetics. The dinnerware and crockery too is handmade from Japan. Of course, they don’t stop here. There’s also the Prive Longue, which seats about 30 to 35. The lush play of red velvet and suede creates a vibe perfect for ditching the hustle-bustle of Bombay and sipping away on cocktails and munching on some fine Japanese tapas. Impressed yet? Wait till they initiate phase two, there’s a rooftop bar in the build. Overall, Akina is polished, playful and luxe.
We visited Akina, to get a taste of this traditional Japanese cooking skill, here are some of the dishes that impressed us.
From their Maki Rolls section, we started off with a Truffle Rock Shrimp Roll which was also one of the top dishes of the evening. It was slightly on the sweeter side yet balanced well with the furikake. On the other hand, if you’re looking for a vegetarian option, there’s the O.G Veg Roll for you, which was a lovely mix of veggies topped with sesame and shiso. Also, how could we visit a Japanese fine dining restaurant and not try the Salmon Nigiri?
For our main course, we indulged in some Crab Udon Noodles and the Smoked Duck Rice. The noodles was sense-stirring play of Dashi butter but with one particular ingredient you’d probably never find in a Japanese dish – Parmesan. The Duck rice too, quite impressed us. The Plum Soy and Shiitake were the winning ingredients. Both dishes were brilliant in their own ways and it’s highly evident that they were carefully thought-of, as they aimed to fuse traditional and modern Jap cuisine.
To finish off, if you’d like to play it safe, there’s Chocolate Textures for you. Comprising of soft chocolate, sponge, chai caramel and topped with a cherry and cocoa wafers. However, if you’re in a slightly more experimental mood, ask for their Mandarin Redberry Kakigori. Sounds, looks, and tastes, absolutely unique. At first, it simply appears as a layer of crisp Mandarin ice, but dig a little deeper and you’re in for a real treat. With toasted rice milk cream, you’ll be scooping out not only strawberry jelly, but also raspberry sorbet. Each spoon was a burst of strawberry and raspberry sweetness topped with the lushness of rice milk. More so, as we dug deeper, its taste simply kept getting richer, thanks to the raspberry sorbet. I must say, it surpassed our expectations in terms of both, taste and style. It’s also a lovely fruity note to end your dinner on. How often do you clean a desert bowl clean? Not very, but this was certainly one of those rare moments. Giving this a solid 10/10 in our books.
All Images: Courtesy brand