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..Akira Japanese Restaurant, London W8..a Review..


Akira Restaurant Japan House High St Kensington London W8

My other half finished a two week stint of jury service the other day, so I thought I would cheer him up with lunch somewhere quite swish - so, we found ourselves at Akira restaurant in Kensington High Street, London W8. Akira is sited on the first floor of the Japan House, which, if you've never been, is a charming little piece of Japan in the UK - there's a shop, takeaway Japanese tea and snack bar, regular exhibits and, last but certainly not least, Akira restaurant. Akira is named after its head chef, Shimizu Akira. As well as offering an extensive lunch and dinner menu, Akira offers a Japanese style afternoon tea and boasts a rather swish cocktail and drinks bar. When I booked, Akira was offering 50% off its bento lunch sets, so, unable to resist, that's what I booked.

Akira Restaurant Cocktail bar, Japan House London W8

Japan House is very easy to find being only a minute away from High St Kensington tube station. Once inside, simply climb the spiral staircase or, you lazybones, take the lift one floor up to find Akira. The restaurant occupies the entire 1st floor of the building - there's a cocktaill bar with seating for 8 - 10 and some small tables with seats for about 10 more. Walk through into the main restaurant and you find a Japanese style counter (where we sat) facing the kitchen area with seating for 12 and tables spread around the rest of the space with seating for 50+. The ambience is understated Japanese - light wood furniture and dark wood screen dividers, muted abstract music in the background. There were 5 or 6 staff sharing the meet and greet and table service. For 1 pm on a Friday, the place was quite busy but the staff were well organised and coping easily with the flow.


Kitchen area and chefs at Akira restaurant

We were seated within a minute of our arrival facing the kitchen where the chefs - 5 of them - were busy preparing the food. Acording to our waitress, the head honcho is Japanese but the other chefs hail from various place including the Philippines and Malaysia. If you've read my other reviews, you'll know I always try to find a spot with a view of the "action" - every kitchen tells a story and here the story was about a clean, efficient, well oiled operation - a good start to our experience.


What did we eat?

We ordered the following:


Akira Bento Lunch Set


Sushi Bento Lunch Set






As you can see from the photo, Akira's bento lunch sets are presented in an array of beautiful little serving dishes - 15 per bento box. Akira's claim that its approach is based on three fundamentals - food, tableware & presentation - isn't just marketing talk - this really was quite the visual treat. The Sushi Bento (above) included some nigiri sushi - salmon, tuna and tai - as well as some tuna and salmon sashimi. The Akira Bento (photo below right) was served with the same cuts of sashimi but instead of the nigiri sushi, there were small cuts of chicken karaage and tonkatsu.


How did the food score?


The dishes and scores were as follows:



Akira Bento lunch set at Akira restaurant Japan House London

Vegetable Tamagoyaki 8.0/10

Simmered Daikon 7.0/10

Simmered Belly Pork 7.0/10

Chicken Karaage 7.5/10

Chicken Katsu 8.0/10

Simmered Lotus Root 7.5/10

Salmon sashimi 8.0/10

Tuna sashimi 8.0/10

Fried eel 8.5/10

Tonkatsu 8.5/10

Grean bean salad 8.5/10

Savoury egg custard 9.0/10

Wasabi pickles 9.5/10

Deep fried white fish 8.5/10

Salmon & Tuna Nigiri 9.0/10

Vegetable tempura 9.0/10

White fish Nigiri 9.0/10

Sushi rolls 8.5/10


Conclusion: A very good selection of dishes with not a "miss" amongst them.


The Bill.


Akira Bento Box £ 20.00


Akira Sushi Bento Box £ 20.00


Kirin beer £ 5.00


Matcha Chocolate Fondant £ 8.00


Total £ 59.62 including VAT & Service charges


Summary: You've heard of the expression, "You get what you pay for". Well, at Akira, we got a lot more than we paid for when we ate there. The lunch time 50% offer is fabulous value - in fact, it's the nicest surprise I've had at a restaurant for a long time! Apart from the high quality of the food and presentation, the restaurant itself was elegant, spacious and understated. The table service was attentive, friendly and willing to help. After our lunch, I left wanting to eat here again sometime soon - the menu has so many good things listed on it and the quality of the lunchtime bento leaves me in absolutely no doubt that the rest of the menu will be equally delicious.


Food: ★★★★☆ Ambience: ★★★★☆ Value for Money: ★★★★★


You can find Akira at 1F Japan House, 101-111 Kensington High Street, London, W8 5SA

Booking via the website at info@akira-restaurant.co.uk


(PS: the restaurants I review are unaware that I am reviewing their fare and service. I pay for what I eat. My opinions are honest and unbiased....)

 

And how about making it yourself?


We all love to dine out and you certainly won't be disappointed by Abeno's offering. But don't forget you can make Japanese food at home which will not only taste good but for a fraction of the price too! I've listed two recipes below for items I ordered during my review. Why not give them a try? Just follow the links to the written recipes and Youtube tutorials.


Recipe #1 Vegetable Tamagoyaki

Japanese daikon ribbon salad in a dashi dressing with rocket leaves

The vegetable tamagoyaki served at Akira was a true teaser dish - enough to enough, not enough to satisfy once you've tasted it. But you can make an equally good vegetable tamagaoyaki at home and, best of all, you don't even. need one of those flash Japanese square shaped pans to make it! (I have to admit a square pan does help though.) Follow my recipe and it will taste every bit as good as the restaurant version. If you would like to tke a closer look at this dish, simply click Vegetable Tamagoyaki to go to the recipe page.

 

Recipe #2 Savoury Egg Custard AKA Chawanmushi


Japanese Tsukune chicken meatball skewers

If you're ever a little under the weather and want to eat something easy on the tummy but tasty and nourishing, I can think of nothing better than a Japanese savoury egg custard, AKA Chawanmushi. Of course, you don't have to be ill to enjoy this meal but I think it illustrates how light and easy to digest this dish is. Chawanmushi isn't difficult to make at home - in fact most Japanese probably eat it more at home than out. If you want to try these out, just click Japanese Savoury Egg Custard to go to the recipe.

 

About the reviewer:


Hi, I'm Kurumi, a cooking writer and blogger. I'm Japanese but I have lived in London for the last

30 thirty years. Back in the days before the internet (and Youtube), I was a food writer. My first book published in English was called Japanese Cooking for Two which I wrote in 1994. It has become the 9th best selling Japanese cookbook ever… yippee!

My other books were ‘The Noodle Cookbook”, “The Soy for Health Cookbook” and “Healthy Noodles.” I also published a book in Japanese “English Home Cooking”. Then I had children and my life changed!

By the time my children had grown up, the world had changed quite a lot too! Internet, Youtube, Insta etc. So, these days, instead of books, I publish recipe and articles on my website and on my Youtube channel. I hope you'll check out my recipes - they are all tried and tested (some more times than I care to mention!) until I think you will get them right first time when you make them and enjoy eating them.


If you’d like to read more about me or my books, then follow the link here:


www.kurumicooks.co.uk/about
















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