Akiba- good things come in threes

Yes, I did go back to AKIBA for the third time in a short time span but in my defense, it was my friends’ first time so really I went for their sake.

Despite having been so many times, I did notice several new things about the place and menu since their official launch last week: the outdoor seating is now completed, AKIBA now serves breakfast and to my dismay the steak tartare and smoked potato have both been taken off the menu.

Excuse the photo lighting, we were in the booth right underneath that fluorescent sign.

The new roomy outside area at AKIBA.IMG_8037.JPGWe all started off with an AKIPOP ($7.00) all without the ‘boom’, the flavours include: pineapple, coconut and chilli; sour cherry and vanilla and strawberry mint. They were all carbonated when I was expecting mixed fruit juices for some reason. The prominent taste in my AKIPOP was the pineapple, I couldn’t taste the coconut and the chilli was a nice burn at the back of the throat after every sip.IMG_8046.JPGThe new menu after AKIBA’s official launch. Why oh why did they take the potato and steak tartare off the menu?!IMG_8042.JPG

After having tried most of the menu, we of course were going to come across things that we have eaten before and recommend it to our friends, but there were still 6 menu items that we hadn’t tried but one of them wasn’t available that night.

The items we couldn’t resist ordering again included dumplings, sashimi, pancakes, baos and the beef short rib. We ordered the J.F.C again but for me it was still just fried chicken and nothing special.IMG_8146.JPGOyster, black vinegar, ginger wine (4 pieces $10.00). I warned my friend that you would have to set your oyster ‘free’ before trying to one shot it. I found this topping much nicer than the ume mignonette.IMG_8069.JPGShiitake and water chestnut dumplings, red vinegar, black pepper (4 pieces $10.00). I found the red vinegar over powering in comparison to the dumpling. Out of the three dumpling choices, this is my least favourite.IMG_8054.JPGRoast broccoli, miso blue cheese, sesame seeds ($9.00- we were given this as a complimentary dish). Having mentioned to Jed a waiter who sees us every time we dine, that there was only several items left to try, he said that he would let us try the broccoli free of charge. TimmyC looked sceptical, he DOES NOT like blue cheese, I mean I’m not a fan but I’m more tolerant than he is. TimmyC flat out did not like it so a friend and I ended up finishing it. The blue cheese itself is still a strong bold flavour but it is dulled out by the al dente broccoli. The flavours of this dish won’t be for everyone.IMG_8072.JPG I asked to see the breakfast menu because I was keen to see what was on offer.

The breakfast menu of AKIBA, not many options but hopefully they do this small selection well.IMG_8044.JPG

Food came out at a fast and steady pace, we didn’t book a table we just walked on in and as always the service was really helpful, attentive and friendly. Just in case you didn’t know their opening hours, I’ve attached their flyer underneath.IMG_8056.JPGI promise I won’t go again… For the rest of the year. 😉

 

Akiba re-run

I did intend on returning to Akiba but not this soon, this was all TimmyC’s doing, he was super keen! Despite the bad weather, we head in with enthusiasm and we giggle when we are seated in our previous seats with the same server from our first visit (see my previous blog post here).

Here is the menu, this time complete with prices.IMG_7690.JPGNatural oyster, ume mignonette (4 pieces $10.00). All of the oysters were still anchored down in the shell so when I tried to one shot my oyster, I ended up sucking all the mignonette and then having to go back and set my oyster free, which by then was then just an oyster. Bits of the shell did break off so I had to spit them out after eventually getting to the oysters. Instead of four quick shots of oysters, it ended up being a little bit more effort than I thought it would be and the flavours weren’t particularly amazing.IMG_7692.JPGKingfish sashimi, coconut, nam jim, coriander ($12.00). We loved this dish during our first visit but this time it was much hotter and it caught TimmyC off guard. I still really liked it but TimmyC couldn’t eat much more after his first bite.IMG_7693.JPGYellowfin tuna, organic Japanese soy, wasabi panna cotta ($14.00). I had forgotten that there was supposed to be a wasabi panna cotta until I re-read the menu just now. I didn’t notice this component and to me this was just a really nice sashimi.IMG_7699.JPG

IMG_7698.JPGSteamed prawn and chicken dumpling, chilli oil, black vinegar dressing (4 pieces $10.00). I thought this was a really nice dumpling and I really enjoyed the black vinegar, but I didn’t think there was anything special about this dish.IMG_7696.JPGPork belly bao, char sui, asian slaw ($8.00). Wow, what a turn around in almost every aspect. The cut of pork was much more suited to fill the bao, the bao itself was much nicer but still not perfect; they are now made in-house rather than brought in from Sydney. There was definitely a bit of everything within each bite which makes it easier to stomach the steep price attached (Ippudo buns are $4 a pop).IMG_7694.JPGThe bun is brimming with excitement and it can barely contain itself.IMG_7705.JPGIMG_7710.JPGSweet corn pancake, chilli caramel, togarashi ($4.00).

Kimchi and angasi pancake, kewpie mayo, sirracha, ittogaki (4.00). I liked how you can just order one pancake as this allowed us to explore more of the options. Both were really nice but I think we liked the kimchi and angasi pancake more comparatively because it had more bold flavours.IMG_7703.JPGIMG_7704.JPGSmokey roast potato, pecorino custard, smoked eel teriyaki ($5.00). “Here’s your one potato”, I giggled at the introduction of our dish. I’m surprised that TimmyC ate and liked this because he isn’t a big fan of cheese. The potato was super super crispy, the pecorino custard wasn’t over powering and a unique concept and the eel helped bring everything together. I really liked this and was very tempted to order another.IMG_7701.JPGWe had ordered 8 items that we requested not to be staggered out, I wanted to see how fast the service could be and TimmyC was very hungry. Between ordering and receiving our last dish it was definitely super fast; I’m going to guesstimate under 10 minutes, but my stomach, mouth and photography couldn’t keep up and I probably wouldn’t do this again unless there was a whole group of us and we were all really hungry.

Caribbean chicken bao,  charred pineapple, kewpie mayo ($8.00). We got greedy. We wanted to try a little bit more; TimmyC wanted another pork bao and I wanted something that we hadn’t tried before, so we compromised and chose this. Although the chicken was super moist and tender, I didn’t think that the pineapple was charred but more importantly I didn’t see how these flavours in the bao work together. I didn’t like it.IMG_7713.JPG

IMG_7711.JPGCharred asparagus, uni butter, seaweed powder ($14.00). The asparagus itself was nicely cooked and the butter tasted lemony and almost had a cheesey flavour. This was cooked in their very big fancy oven (which was very $$$) but I don’t see how it is any better than me cooking it at home in a pan with butter, salt and pepper.IMG_7714.JPGTea smoked duck ham, gruyere custard, umeboshi and rosemary ($7.00). This was almost unrecognisable as a duck flavour, it was more familiar in my mouth as a cured pork product that has a really nice smokey flavour. I’m not completely sold on all the flavours and compared to other menu items, I probably wouldn’t order this again but TimmyC liked it.IMG_7720.JPGTo give you a size comparison, I took a wider shot against my water glass.IMG_7722.JPGChocolate tart, pickled strawberry ($9.00). It wasn’t as great as the first time that we had it; I felt that the soft chocolate tart component had more coffee flavours with harsh bitter after taste.IMG_7724.JPG

IMG_7726.JPGHand crafted pottery is slowly coming in as the training wheels are coming off.IMG_7723.JPGAfter having eaten most of the menu, I still really enjoy Akiba but I definitely have ‘go to’ dishes and other ones that I probably won’t bother with. I cannot wait to see their breakfast menu!

Akiba

If you had asked me earlier in the day what I was doing on Saturday night, I would have told you that I was going to sleep off the food coma that I was about to be induced in after heading home from a 24hr interstate return trip.

I did not expect to drive back from Wollongong and immediately proceed to the doors of Akiba and line up for 45 minutes in the miserable weather, but that is exactly what TimmyC and I did after I had read the following Facebook post from HerCanberra:

I’m blaming HerCanberra and Eileen from The Food Avenue for enticing me to wanting to go to Akiba that night.

FB

What happened next was quite embarrassing, I hopefully will eventually learn to laugh at the situation, but for now I’m cringing every time I think about it. I accidentally stood at the front of the line thinking it was the back. The lovely people who were actually indeed in front of the line and had started waiting before 5pm, were very sweet not to swear at me as I innocently stood in front of them and started chatting to another 101localhuman as well as star food blogger Eileen (The Food Avenue). It wasn’t until I asked Eileen ‘how many people do you think are in front of you?’ did I realise my mistake. I proceeded to then squeeze in with Eileen and her partner who were second in line and I didn’t stop feeling guilty until I knew that everyone that was in line before the opening, was easily within the first 100 people *phew*. I think the weather put off a few people because 45 minutes after the opening, people that just came in were still within the first 100 people, which meant they got 6 dishes for free.IMG_7617.JPGWe could see the staff being briefed inside and as it rolled around to 6pm, the door was slowly opened and we were greeted with loud applause, lots of high energy and chants of ‘Akiba’ by the staff. It all felt a bit strange and surreal but it pumped me up before our meal.

There was some confusion with the menu about the portion sizes and prices. First of all there were no prices written on the menu and they had ‘special discounted prices’ on the night for the desserts so I couldn’t tell you if the dumplings were a bargain or if you were better off buying a packet of frozen ones at home. Secondly, some dishes come as a serve (regardless of how many are on the table) and some come as per person, so it might not have been advantageous for the very generous Eileen to allow me to sit at her table.  The food menu is divided into the following headings: raw, dumplings/bao/pancakes/buns, meat and fish, veg and dessert.

A look into the menu of Akiba.IMG_7531.JPGOne of the first to be seated with other patrons followed closely behind, the restaurant fills up fastIMG_7527.JPGA close up of the oyster bar.IMG_7612.JPGDrinks~

Snap, Crackle and Pop punch Ketel One vodka, Rice bubbles infused milk, pineapple and lemon Note: contains no milk ($20.00). This sounded like a really cute drink and I love how the rim of the glass was coated; everyone who tasted it thoroughly enjoyed it.IMG_7538.JPGFukushima Zombie Secret blend of Rums, triple citrus and ginger. For when you need to blow off steam! ($18.00 but we were charged $15.00). This was someone else’s drink but I think the alcohol was very strong in this cocktail.IMG_7540.JPGLychee cider ($10.00). I was surprised to see that this was a local product but I think TimmyC was expecting something a little sweeter.IMG_7539.JPGFood~ With only six dishes for free and no idea about portion sizes, we decided to choose our top 6 and then order again if need be afterwards.

Kingfish sashimi, coconut, nam jim, coriander (one serve 4 pieces). As soon as I took my mouthful, my palette went on a flavour journey, it was rather amazing really. There were so many flavours in the mouthful and I really liked the addition of the coconut cream. It’s a shame that it was the first dish to come because nothing much could compare; this was definitely one of my favourite dishes of the night.IMG_7544.JPGIMG_7545.JPGBeef tartare, pink peppercorn, pickled cucumber, fried egg puree, sweet potato crisp. I wouldn’t have chosen this one personally, but I’m really glad that someone did. The crispy sweet potato acted like a sandwich cover and made it much easier to eat in a few simple bites. You wouldn’t have thought that it was raw meat; dishes like this goes to show that you should try something new and you might be pleasantly surprised.IMG_7548.JPGIMG_7549.JPGIMG_7552.JPGBeef short rib dumpling, preserved lemon, shiitake mushroom, star anise broth (one serve 4 pieces). The filling was very tender and almost like a pulled beef. I was impressed with the size of the dumpling, how thin the wrapper was and the addition of the star anise broth gave it the sauce that it needed to not dry out.IMG_7555.JPGSpiced pork jowl, pan cake, pickled white peach, cucumber, negi. This was oily, potato-ey and salty but I loved every bite. The white peach gave it a sweetness and crunch that helped with the oilyness and it reminded me of my Mum’s potato scallop when I used to wedge it into my hamburger.IMG_7557.JPGIMG_7558.JPGPork belly bao, char sui, asian slaw (one bun per person). This was one of TimmyC’s favourite dishes but I didn’t like it as much. I thought that the filling should maybe have been more uniform across the bun (maybe a wide slice rather than little thick pieces) as there were some mouthfuls that had zero filling and the bun wasn’t as white and fluffy to what I’m used to. The sauce on the pork was salty but well balanced by the asian slaw.IMG_7561.JPGIMG_7563.JPGA closer look of the inside of the bao.IMG_7564.JPGUntil this point, food was coming thick and fast from the kitchen, but they finally must have hit a breaking point because it was a loooooooong time before our last dish arrived. We didn’t mind as we were happily conversing but eventually our chicken arrived.IMG_7543.JPGJ.F.C., lemon braised onions, parmesan (one serving 4 pieces). J.F.C stands for ‘Japanese Fried Chicken’ and as soon as we found that out, it definitely made it to our top 6 dishes. I found it a little disappointing that they didn’t take it to another level like the other dishes and it was actually in fact… Just fried chicken.IMG_7567.JPGHaving two keen bean foodies on the table, it was no surprise that we wanted to order more dishes outside of our 6 free ones; it was for multiple reasons: 1) we wanted to suss out the prices of the meals 2) we wanted to try more from the menu and 3) we weren’t really full from the food so far. We asked our designated waiter how much the dishes were before we ordered them and he came back with the answer of ‘keep it hush hush but if you order two more dishes we’ll also give them to you free’, which really didn’t help us with our first point but we were happy enough to order another two.

There was another long wait before we got our final two savoury dishes and our very kind waiter was profusely apologetic but we didn’t mind at all as we were still happily talking. They gave us an additional complimentary serving of beef short rib dumplings as an apology for the slow kitchen and not long after, our dishes arrived.

It was starting to get really busy inside Akiba.IMG_7569.JPGBeef short rib, tamarind caramel, thai basil (one serve). This was so tender that I’m pretty sure if I sneezed it would have fallen apart. A big chunk of meat that super tender with great savoury flavours.IMG_7611.JPGSoft shell crab bao, pickled baby gem, creamy ponzu (one bun per person). I think in their haste they forgot the creamy ponzu and it definitely needed it. I don’t think I’m in love with their bun because I’ve had better but the soft shell crab itself was crunchy, had a nice meaty component (not just all the crispy legs) and was seasoned well.IMG_7613.JPGThere wasn’t much on one side of my bun.IMG_7616.JPGDessert~ They were giving us a special discount price of $8.00 each but they were unable to tell us how much the desserts would be charged after the official opening.

Chocolate tart, pickled strawberry. There were two parts of the chocolate tart: the hard part which tasted like solid chocolate and a soft velvety part which had delicious caramel coffee notes that everyone wanted to end on.IMG_7621.JPGTofu cheese cake, anzac crumb, pandan jelly. Don’t be put off by the tofu in the cheesecake, it is more for the texture. As non picturesque as it is (comparatively), I really enjoyed it, it was light on the palette and you could really taste the pandan in the jelly; it was a very small serve though. Between the two desserts though, I would probably prefer the chocolate tart because of soft velvety component.IMG_7620.JPGI thought stomach wise, I was just on the borderline of being content but the longer I sat there afterwards, the ‘fuller’ I felt, but admittedly that was after sharing NINE savoury dishes and a dessert. Maybe if you don’t go from brunch straight to dinner (or eat like a normal person), you’ll require less food.

I would like to thank the lovely Eileen (The Food Avenue) so so so much for letting me hijack her table and allowing me to order more food than if it was TimmyC and I (he is useless).

The restaurant sits 152 patrons with outdoor seating eventually to come with another 60 person capacity.

I wouldn’t have minded to sit in a booth; my bum was feeling a little sore after sitting on stools for over two hours.IMG_7626.JPG

IMG_7628.JPGI really liked the food here, despite a few hiccups which is to be expected during the opening of a new restaurant. Akiba has an exciting menu with lots of variations; I will be returning very shortly and I will be keen to find out some prices.

Venue: Akiba

Address: 40 Bunda Street, Civic ACT 2600

Website: http://www.akiba.com.au/

Opening: The official opening is Monday (8th Dec) night. They envisage being open 7 days a week for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The kitchen will close around 10 ish and the place will transition into a bar serving interesting cocktails until early hours of the morning.
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