With its coveted address (the luxe JW Marriott Hotel Singapore South Beach), designer furnishings (by Philippe Starck) and award-winning chef (professional-snowboarder-turned- celebrity chef Akira Back), Akira Back checks all the boxes for the prospect of a fabulous night out. Back, who was born in South Korea and raised in Aspen, Colorado, in the US, specialises in Japanese cuisine and runs the successful Yellowtail Japanese Restaurant & Lounge at the Bellagio Resort & Casino in Las Vegas, among others. Akira Back Singapore opened in December 2016.
Service is wonderful: The gracious staff are ever cheerful and do their very best to address any question. They are also articulate when making recommendations, which makes the ordering process informative and, dare we say, really pleasant.
Food here, described as Japanese cuisine with Korean accents, is fun, largely delectable, and good for sharing. The signature tuna pizza, a crispy tortilla disc spread with a layer of umami aioli, topped with thinly sliced raw tuna, micro shiso, and drizzled with truffle oil, is moreish. The grilled Alaskan king crab, slathered with a spicy, creamy “dynamite sauce” and topped with pickled shimeji mushrooms, is delicious. You can hardly taste the natural sweetness of crab, but that is not a deal breaker. The “Tajima” short ribs, painstakingly braised for 48 hours, is fork tender and dressed with a robust jus that takes the dish from pleasing to stunning.
Overall, most of the flavour and ingredient combinations that we sampled make sense. The menu also showcases other unconventional flavour pairings of fatty tuna belly with kochujang (Korean chilli paste) and oscietra caviar, as well as anago (saltwater eel) tempura, unagi (freshwater eel) and foie gras sushi roll matched with ponzu mayonnaise.
These may read like an unlikely culinary adventure, but who knows where it will take you. Loosen up, have some sake (the chef has his own private label), and enjoy the ride.
AKIRA BACK SINGAPORE
Level B1M, JW Marriott Singapore
South Beach, S(189763)