Akari is a neighbourhood Japanese restaurant in a converted pub. They haven’t made many changes to the interior so it has a relaxed feel. Old pub tables and the original bar. At the back of the room they’ve added a high bar which you can sit at and watch the sushi chefs at work.
When we visited it on Saturday night we ordered an eclectic meal for two. Starting with some tuna on a bed of nattō. Which I wanted to try because I just hadn’t had it before. It is fermented soy beans with a slimy, sticky, texture. Think a subtle marmite flavour. Served with some good quality chunks of tuna and spring onion.
Next up a salad of sliced pork belly, served cold with a sesame and miso dressing.
Chirashi is sushi rice with pickled ginger and various sashimi. Some of it, like the mackerel and prawns had been very lightly grilled. But mostly raw seafood on just warm, lightly vinegared rice. It’s a nice selection of properly fresh fish. A very satisfying dish. Though I felt like it could have used a bit more ginger? Something to brighten it up a bit.
We also tried their miso marinated cod. I’ve never had the Nobu original but this was a nice piece of fish. The miso marinade had penetrated all the way through. Crisp on the outside but not dry internally.
The miso soup they serve uses red miso. Which is nice for a change. It has a deeper, meatier flavour. Most places use lighter yellow miso in their soups.
Akari is good, the ingredients are fresh and well prepared. But some of the dishes (pork belly and chirashi) could use a bit more zest or complexity, I think we’ll have to go back some time to try just the sushi. Maybe when Jen is eating rice again…
196 Essex Road,
London N1 8LZ