24 Jan 2019
Bringing a unique modern Japanese dining experience to the capital is Akira at London’s Japan House on Kensington High Street. The eponymous restaurant from acclaimed Executive Chef Shimizu Akira (of Engawa) is founded on the trinity of Japanese cooking principles – food, tableware and presentation. Expect serious Japanese food, elegant presentation and a commitment to innovation, all served up in refined and minimalist interior.
Guests are immersed in authentic omotenashi hospitality as chefs prepare dishes reflecting Japan’s diverse cuisine. Seasonal ingredients are used over roaring robata flames alongside a wide selection of skilfully sliced sashimi and carefully crafted sushi assortments, abundant in colours, textures and flavours. The dining experience is further enhanced with exquisite, bespoke ceramics and glassware, personally designed by Akira and created in collaboration with artisan producers from his home country.
The restaurant’s minimal and modern decor, designed by Katayama Masamichi of Wonderwall reflects the Japanese philosophy of place and home – doma – a social space where family, friends and neighbours gather. Wooden partitions, a black slatted ceiling and polished concrete floors echo the precision of Akira’s dishes. Sit at the open kitchen counter for a fascinating insight into how the chefs work or gather around handcrafted tables and chairs designed by renowned woodworker George Nakashima.
The menu features only the highest quality ingredients and the presentation is second to none with dishes presented on beautiful ceramic plates and bowls, atop giant volcanic rocks and in 14-piece bento boxes featuring jewel-like individual hand-painted pots and bowls. The combination of traditional Japanese cuisine with modern European elements, such as the Akira fish and chips with special tartar sauce and the crab and cream croquettes, showcases the innovation of the kitchen. Also on offer is imaginative sushi specialities, robata charcoal grills, such the Akira kushiyaki skewers made from umami-rich Waygu beef, pork, chicken, seafood and vegetables, and a selection of carefully crafted omakase menus.
Lunch is focused on a range of dons, traditional rice bowls, noodle dishes and signature bento boxes. Highlighting Akira’s unrivalled attention to detail, each handmade box houses beautiful, intricately prepared bowls of assorted sashimi, osozai and vegetables. Dishes contain the likes of tender salmon with fish eggs; tuna topped with delicate herbs and allium blossoms; crisp vegetable tempura; and mushroom and cheese croquettes – all accompanied by sating bowls of red miso soup.
For a signature Akira experience, opt for the robata or sushi omakase set menus, with three courses at lunch (£60) and up to five available for dinner (£75). Visually striking and delicious, each omakase includes a daily changing starter, such as seabass and watercress carpaccio with shiso Genovese sauce or belly tuna sashimi salad with jalapeno dressing; an elegant, filled bento box, and main course of either Wagyu beef or sushi.
Into the evening starters take the form of spicy edamame, inspired salads, croquettes and rolls. Fine sushi nigiri and sashimi show off interesting pairings such as yellowtail fish with kumquat; sea urchin with tosa jelly; and seared toro with serrano ham. Japanese dishes from the robata grill are delivered to the table in style, sizzling hot on large lava stones. Choose from shiitake mushrooms with spicy teriyaki mayonnaise; miso pork belly or chicken ume plum and miso skewers. Spectacular sumiyaki include the likes of chargrilled Wagyu steak, a genuine delicacy renowned for its superior flavour, buttery tenderness and well-marbled texture; and Saikyo miso marinated silver cod.
The drinks menu is equally enchanting with innovative cocktails featuring Japanese ingredients including rare sake, yuzu and shiso. Sit at the bar and enjoy a Citrus Cooler with citron vodka, kumquat, mint, yuzu juice, apple sake and lemonade; a Whisky Dreamer with Japanese whisky, nashi pear, plum shrub, pear liquor and tonic water; or a choice of non-alcoholic specialities like the zingy Green Piece made using sage syrup, lime juice, honey and ginger beer.
Wine, Sake & Whisky
The wine list has been carefully curated to complement the food, opt for a vintage from the extensive menu or choose one of twenty-eight sakes, including premium and fruit varieties. Guests are invited to choose the perfect sake sip from a choice of thirty-six exquisite cups presented by the server. For whisky connoisseurs, the bar is stocked with an impressive range of fine single-malt and blended Japanese whiskies, favour a three-glass flight or pick out one of four excellent Japanese beers.
110-111 Kensington High Street, London, W8 5SA
020 3971 4646