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Total fulfillment of all your fish wishes

Inside Feature

December 8, 2019

Story By: Caroline Wright | Photos by: ANTHONY CONSILLIO

Born in Japan in 1977, chef Taiki Kawai began working at the prestigious Tokyo Kioicho Membership Club when he was just 18 years old, refining and honing his skills under the watchful eye of legendary chef Hiroshi Igawa.

Kawai came to Hawaii in 2005 as chef for New Otani Kaimana Beach Hotel, and was ultimately promoted to head chef. For six years, before the Beretania Street restaurant closed, he was the executive chef at Sushi Izakaya Shinn.

Though he opened Akira just over a year ago, Kawai has already earned rave critical and popular reviews for his extraordinary cuisine.

“We have traditional Japanese dishes with local ingredients,” the chef says, adding, “The dishes are very artistically prepared. Local customers like the high quality and uniqueness of my dishes.”

Guests have been raving about Akira’s new seasonal menu, a selection of a dozen or so extraordinary items including some with ingredients not often seen in Hawaii. Shirako (codfish sperm), mehikari (the rare deep-sea Greeneye fish), and hatahata, the scale Japanese sandfish whose name translates to “fish god” are all served here. Even Wakasagi, Japanese pond smelt, are offered as tempura, and with their tender texture and light, pleasant flavor, they’re truly tasty.

With an unassuming but handsome facade, simple but comfortable furnishings and decor, and its impeccable kaiseki-style cuisine, Akira is located in the old Atlas

Building at 1150 South King, now called eleven50. If you haven’t visited before, it’s a little tricky to find; simply enter the garage on Young Street for validated valet parking that’s just $2 for 3 hours. In the evenings, there’s often plentiful street parking.

If you’re lucky and smart enough to arrive at Akira before 5:30 p.m. on the day of your visit, ask about the Kaiseki-Style Tasting Menu ($48). Only 10 of these extraordinary meals are available each day, during early Happy Hour from 4-5:30 p.m. With a mouthwatering Chef’s selection of various appetizers, sashimi, and sushi, plus a steamed dish, grilled dish, simmered dish, fried dish, and more, as well as miso soup and sorbet, this is one of the best, most delicious deals in town.

OCEANS OF FLAVOR

Aji Namerou ($14), Simesaba Sashimi ($14), Wakasagi Tempura ($8.50), Grilled Mehikari ($4.50), Hatahata Nitsuke ($12), Shirako Ponzu ($12) and Shirako Grilled ($12)

SHIRAKO PONZU ($12)

This dish features a light and creamy taste and texture.

HATAHATA NITSUKE ($12)

This is a lovely fish in broth.

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