Flavour of the Week: Akira Back

Akira Back brings the creative Korean-Japanese fare to Bisha

What's the vibe

With a global chain of restaurants spanning from Las Vegas and Dallas to Dubai, Singapore and New Delhi, the Michelin-starred Akira Back brings his first Canadian restaurant to Toronto’s brand new Bisha Hotel.

There’s a separate entrance leading to the restaurant’s home on the second floor, just left of Bisha’s main lobby. The tunnel-like interior is dark and moody with plenty of black stained wood and tabletops, culminating in a golden-hued dining room and an open sushi prep counter connecting to the main kitchen. Solo diners can snag a seat at the sushi bar but the majority of guests are here on dinner dates, which Akira Back makes a fitting location for. Your dinner here won’t be cheap but it’s a suitable spot for celebrating a special occasion.

 

What to drink

Akira Back boasts an impressive sake list. Among the varieties available by the bottle are the sweet and full-bodied Wandering Poet and Konteiki’s Tears of Dawn – a smooth sake with tropical fruit notes.

The restaurant also boasts its own signature house sakes (a honjozo, daiginjo and junmai ginjo) which are available in all of the Akira Back locations. Another unique item to try from the beverage menu is the restaurant brand’s signature plum sake, made from plums that are picked and processed on the same day to retain its freshness and flavour. The plum sake is bright ruby red in colour with a subtle sweetness that makes it a nice accompaniment to your dessert course.

What to eat

Much like chef Back’s Korean-born, American-raised and Japanese-trained influences, food offerings here span a wide range of culinary origins. Each Akira Back restaurant is curated for its local clientele but there are a few signature menu items that are found at all locations for good reason.

We started the evening with a “pizza” of thin bluefin tuna slices atop a truffle aioli-smeared cracker cut into slices meant to be eaten by hand. Another border-bending starter is the seared scallops, swimming in a rich beurre blanc subtly flavoured with yuzu.

Traditionalists can rest assured that familiar options like california rolls and miso soup are still on the menu. Akira Back’s sashimi bowls are an artistic display atop a bed of ice, with fresh salmon slices and perfectly fatty slabs of tuna that melt in the mouth. Signature rolls definitely take liberties from the expected, like the towering Brother from Another Mother (topped with small pieces of foie gras) or the Pop Rockin that pairs spicy tuna with Pop Rocks.