They call it a new wave of modern Japanese cuisine, I call it LA Japantown-style Japanese cuisine. Love it or hate it, this mix-and-match of cultures – meticulous and traditional Japanese sushi-ya meet American diners and drives-in – have found their acceptance among the Milleniums.
From the restaurant that bears the owner/chef name, Akira Back thrills diners with the best of classic Japanese dishes woven with ingredients and flavours from Chef Akira Back’s South Korean heritage as well as culinary influences and experiences from his upbringing in USA. So you have sashimi served alongside a tuna carpaccio pizza, and fusion maki-rolls that you would not find in Japan.
Daily Sakana Selection Sashimi Combo
Akami, Chutoro, Otoro, Kimedai, Hirame
First up, a testimonial to the freshness of the ingredients. Sakana traditionally refers to food served with sake, and originates from the words saka (sake) and na (side dish). Because dried fish and salted fish roe were popular choice for such dishes, over the years the term sakana also came to mean “fish.”
The Sakana Selection was a very luxurious choice of sashimi with all three cuts of the bluefin tuna – the lean meat called akami, the two levels of fatty tuna belly called chutoro and otoro. And the wasabi was freshly grated variety as expected from the best sushiya.
Signature Tuna Pizza
Umami Aioli, micro shiso, truffle oil on thin, crisp tortilla base
The first of the innovative choices, the signature tuna pizza was made with a toasted tortilla based and layers with waffle-thin, truffle oil-cured tuna slices held together with a layer of flavoured mayonnaise. I was trying to guess it was Kewpie with added flavours like seaweed, but I could be wrong. But what was right was that this was a really good appetiser to start the meal with, and I recommend it every time you are in Akira Back.
Brother from another Mother
Unagi kabayaki, anago tempura, shaved foie gras tourchon, ponzu mayo
There are multiple ways to served foie gras, and tourchon of foie gras is taking foie gras, deveined and cured with salt and a sweet aperitif like sherry. Some served it as-it, i.e. not cooked but most would lightly poached the foie gras “sausage” before chilling it again and sliced to served.
I am not sure if they made their tourchon in-house, but it paired well with the anago (sea eel) tempura and unagi (river eel) kabayaki. You get the crunchy the tempura and the distinct taste of kabayaki. I could sense the textures of the unagi and anago mashing together, indistinguishable – I guessed when they named this “brother from another mother”, they must be thinking about this.
Shrimp tempura, spicy tuna, salmon belly aburi, chipotle mayo
The tempura shrimp roll cut and plated sideways, topped with salmon belly with the smoky aburi taste, and spicy tuna made so famous from Japantown. A sloppy and messy maki-roll that a traditional Japanese sushi chef would frown upon. But this is the epitome of Americanised Japanese cuisine. Did I enjoy it? Yes. Would I order this if I was alone? Not really.
48 Hrs “Sanchoku” Short Rib
Braising jus with Australian farm ribs
Beef short ribs are an old fashioned cut that has grown in popularity over the past few years as many chefs feature them on their menu. They are cut from the rib of the forequarter of the cow. They consist of beautifully marbled meat and as that meat and fat is from a Wagyu the delicious flavour is extenuated.
Sanchoku 產直 is a Japanese philosophy which follows the principle of produce being “direct from the source”. The long 300+ day grain feeding program of this Australian Wagyu beef ensures a deliciously rich and buttery flavour. It’s very hard not to like this dish with such a well executed braised beef short ribs that retained all the flavours whilst locking in the juice and fats, giving that melt in your mouth yet explosive flavours.
I am pretty confident Akira Back will soon get the Michelin nod and become the second restaurant after Dosa to get the star for Chef Akira. The price is reasonable for the quality and service level, something I cannot guarantee after the star. Marriott Bonvoy members get a discount and points – useful during this period when one is not travelling much.
JW Marriott Hotel Singapore South Beach
30 Beach Road, Access via Nicoll Highway, Singapore 189763
Tel : +65 6818 1914
Date Visited : Apr 2021
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