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Japanese fare with island flair utilizes quality ingredients

A La Carte

February 2, 2020

Story By: Brandon Bosworth | Photos by: ANTHONY CONSILLIO

Simesaba Sashimi ($14)

Akira Japanese Restaurant offers the traditional “kaiseki” (multicourse) meals of Japan while using high quality ingredients from Hawaii, creating a cuisine that blends the best of both worlds.

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

Kawai opened Akira a little more than a year ago. Born in Japan, he came to Hawaii in 2005 as chef for New Otani Kaimana Beach Hotel, where he was ultimately promoted to head chef. Kawai also served for six years at Sushi Izakaya Shinn.

Aji Namerou ($14)

Akira Japanese Restaurant offers rotating seasonal menus featuring a variety of dishes, some a bit out of the ordinary.

Shirako (“white children” in Japanese; it’s actually codfish sperm) has a light, creamy taste and texture, similar to custard, which evolves as it softens with heat. Akira offers it several ways: Shirako Ponzu, Shirako Grilled, and Shirako Agedashi ($12 each). Or try Shirako Chawanmushi for just $8.50.

Shirako Ponzu ($12)

Mehikari are rare deepsea aulopiform marine fishes with eyes that look illuminated by green and blue light. Akira offers both Grilled Mehikari ($4.50) and Mehikari Tempura ($4.50). It’s a rare item you won’t see at many other local establishments.

Jackfish is a bit fatty like yellowtail, but has a clean, sweet flavor. Akira offers it raw as Aji Tataki ($14), or as Aji Namerou ($14), a simple preparation with miso and ginger.

Hata Hata Nitsuke ($12)

Hatahata, also known as the sailfin or Japanese sandfish, are only found during the cold winter months in the sandy-mud ocean bottoms of the Sea of Japan and the Okhotsk Sea.

At Akira, it’s simmered in broth as Hata Hata Nitsuke ($12) or simply cooked as Hata Hata Grilled ($12).

Want to try several different dishes? Visit Akira before 5:30 p.m. and ask about the Kaiseki-Style Tasting Menu ($48) featuring a 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. Only 10 are available daily at early happy hour, 4-5:30 p.m.

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