Text by Erza S.T. Photos by Ramadhan
On a rainy afternoon back in 2012, FRV Travel met up with Akira Back, the Korean-born chef with a Japanese name who was raised in Aspen, Colorado. His cooking technique and incredible tasting palate is not only well renowned but has garnered him awards in America, where he based. As an alumnus of Iron Chef America and known for his 5-Diamond Award winning restaurant Yellowtail Japanese restaurant & lounge at the Bellagio Resort & Casino in Las Vegas, this chef has finally decided to open his first restaurant in Asia in Jakarta, Indonesia.
With such an interesting background, Akira Back is known to bring adventure and creativity to his food. On his first visit to Indonesia in 2012 for a wine pairing dinner event, I still remember exactly the fun that he brought to the food involving pop rocks candy and the uber delicious tuna pizza, which is one of Yellowtail’s signature dishes.
When Akira’s restaurant finally open in Jakarta this July, I was more than thrilled to savour more of his creations without the hassle of going to Vegas. Located at the new MD Building in Central Jakarta, Akira, restaurant is a real ultra modern gem combining the Zen element of Japanese philosophy with the subtle luxury of modern design. As a collaborative effort between Akira and Metaphor – an interior and architecture design firm, the restaurant design is looking sexy in black with white and wooden accents. The restaurant is divided into two sections and on the right side is an L-shape main dining room that is surrounded by a few private rooms juxtaposing an open kitchen. On the left side is a spacious bar area with wooden steps functioning as a long bench. On the ceiling we can see wood cuttings mimicking the movements of the ocean waves, while…
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a whimsical journey of delicious and memorable eating experiences.
on the reception area, a gigantic layers of wood with stunning curves and hollow in the middle will greet your vision as you arrive.
Chef Akira Back studied under top celebrity chefs such as Masaharu Morimoto, Brian Nagao and Nobu Matsuhisa, before creating his own original style of Japanese that we know today. He plays around with American pop culture that he grew up in mixed with his Korean roots and his Japanese traditional cooking techniques. The result is a whimsical journey of delicious and memorable eating experiences. I was so glad to see the signature tuna pizza with ponzu mayo, shiso and truffle oil on the menu. It almost felt like meeting a long lost friend to actually savour this unique taste. Another sweet reunion came from Pop Rockin’, one of the signature rolls that has spicy crab, asparagus and lemon Pop Rocks candy. Last time I tried this in 2012, this famous candy from the 90s was infused to the foie gras pate and brioche.
The stunning dish, seared foie gras with kochujang miso and spiced acacia honey gave me a trial of Korean taste in the sauce, while the crispy rice with blackened tuna, nori paste and spicy ponzu aioli resembling a Mexican taco is obviously inspired from American pop culture. Though Akira Back does not actually do the cooking for his restaurant in Jakarta, he has assigned seven of his most trustworthy chefs, lead by Chef Andri Dionysius (an Indonesian corporate chef) to run this first outlet ever in Asia. It is amazing to enjoy such consistency and balance of the taste in here. A visit to Akira Back restaurant in Jakarta is almost like going to a spa for your palate. A repeat umami moment in here is definitely a must!
Akira Back Restaurant
Jl. Setiabudi Selatan No. 7 Jakarta