gracecheung604 | write on time: Trying the New Aki

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Trying the New Aki

A few months ago, we were saddened to hear that the building at Alberni and Thurlow would be torn down, and that the businesses in there would have to relocate. One of my favourites was Aki, and I'm delighted to say that they have found new digs! Opened for a month or two now, you can find them on 1368 West Pender. Gone are the red lanterns, here is what greets you as you approach their new space. 
Aki Front Door 2 
This post is a combination of a lunch and dinner experience there, but nevertheless, you'll get a good idea of what's in-store. First off, the Manager/Owner, Brian, is a gracious host and will try to accommodate your requests. Since we were dining with children, I had asked for quieter table, and we were seated in a table towards the back of the restaurant; just what I wanted. 
IMG-20120619-01650 We started off the meal with some Tako Sunomono, with a few slices of octopus. The dressing was nice and tart, and the noodles were just tender enough to the point of al dente. This was a great appetizer and the flavours really whets your appetite for more! 
Assorted Sashimi 2When given an option between sashimi and sushi, I will always pick sashimi. Here is their deluxe assorted sashimi. See how fresh the amaebi looks? I liked the salmon and tuna, I though the knife work was quite delicate. Oh, and the surf clam was amazing too. Definitely not enough wasabi for me though. I like my wasabi and soy sauce mixture to be the consistency of toothpaste, and yes, it does clear the sinus quite well! 
IMG-20120530-01421 I had to get my Ikura and this was no exception - plump and with very fresh nori, this was very good.
IMG-20120619-01651 We also tried some of their gyozas, always a kid's favourite. This was nothing special and the cooking seemed a little uneven with some pieces burnt and others barely browned. The good thing was that the inside was juicy and moist, even if I had to peel off some of the skin. 
Salmon Butter This is their Salmon Butter and is a complete meal by itself, coming with a side of rice, some miso soup as well as some pickled veggies. Inside the package with the fish, there are some mushrooms and broccoli too.
Salmon Butter 2 The name pretty much says it all, it's salmon cooked in butter. The steaming process makes for a delicious and moist fish. The aroma of the butter is unmistakeable. Though the dish was made with butter, I was surprised at how "light" and non-greasy this dish was. 
Chicken Karaage Another Japanese staple and kids favourite, it's the Chicken Karaage. Perfectly deep fried with a great crunch. I liked how they served it with some lemon, a little reminiscent of the Phnom Penh chicken wings with their lemon dipping sauce. It's not the same, but the flavour profile is similar. 
Nabeyaki Udon This is a classic, the Nabeyaki Udon, complete with chicken, an egg, some fish cake as well as veggies and a tempura prawn. The broth was piping hot, with great flavours from the dashi, soy and mirin. The noodles had a great mouth feel. Chewy but not hard. Burst the egg yolk into the soup for a thicker texture.    
The other Udon We also had to get another udon, so we went for the Tempura Udon. This came with a few prawns as well as some tempura veggies. The broth for this was milder, both in flavour and colour. If you remember, ask them to serve the tempura separately so it doesn't get soggy. 
Salmon Head Aki was very well-known for their robata dishes, so we had to get something from the grill. Here is the Salmon Kama, basically a grilled salmon head and neck.  This had a very good smoky flavour, and the skin had a nice crispiness. Pour the soy sauce onto the daikon radish to make it a little bit of a paste. Squirt the lemon all over and you're good to go. 
The rolls For rolls, we decided to go with a California Roll, their BC Roll with tobiko on the outside, and ended up with a Chopped Spicy Scallop roll. All of these were good, with a decent rice to filling ratio. Enough rice to fill you up, but not overly so that you can't taste the other ingredients. The BC roll was probably my favourite, with a crispy salmon skin filling.  
chicken teriyaki And for those of you who don't like fish, you'll be happy to know that their Chicken Teriyaki is bang on too. This is probably my stepdad's favourite Japanese dish, and I really liked how the bean sprouts weren't cook to the point of mush. It was actually nice served raw, with a great crunch.
If you are looking for a non-izakaya experience, Aki is a great bet. Dinner for 5 adults and 3 kids, with a 2 large Sapporo beers and a large hot sake came to $168 including tips and tax. Not cheap, but fair for the amount of food we got. 
Aki Japanese Restaurant on Urbanspoon

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