Akiba’s opening in December 2014 was greeted with much anticipation from Canberrans. The concept, the location and the marketing (who didn’t walk past the 2m high decals spanning the whole width of its windows at some point or other?!) was a breath of fresh air and reminded us that it was worth detouring from Lonsdale Street or the Kingston Foreshore to dine in Civic once in a while.
Occupying the space that Dieci e Mezzo previously held, Akiba is neither strictly a bar nor a restaurant – more a space to hang out and have a good time (albeit where you also pay money in return for food and drinks). Its name represents the Akihabara ‘electric town’ district in Tokyo, and the fitout and atmosphere of Akiba reflects this with its neon light features and vibrant colours.
The menu is fittingly dominated by Asian flavours, and features a range of raw dishes, street food (dumplings, bao, pancakes) and larger meat/veg plates. As we read through it, EVERYTHING sounds interesting so we choose one or two dishes from each section to try. The menu is a really modern, innovative take on Asian food and I can’t help but draw some similarities between the style of food here and at Dan Hong’s ‘Ms G’s’ in Potts Point.
(NOTE: the menu has changed slightly since our visit – see http://www.akiba.com.au/pdf/20150415_akiba_menu.pdf for the current menu.)
First out is the kingfish sashimi with coconut, nam jim and coriander ($12). The coconut is actually coconut cream drizzled over the kingfish, and the nam jim is punchy and has slightly cured the kingfish which is quite nice.
The prawn and chicken dumplings with black vinegar ($10 for 4) are soft and slippery, but my favourite are the beef short rib dumplings in star anise broth (also $10 for 4). There’s a great depth of flavour from the beef rib (no doubt from the bones and fat), and the star anise in the broth is well pronounced without being too aniseed-y.
We also order the kimchi and angasi oyster pancake ($4), and the pork belly bao with Asian slaw ($8). I felt that the pancake was a bit flat and could have had some more flavour, while the pork belly and bao were both soft and cooked well.
The J.F.C. (Japanese Fried Chicken) ($14) comes out as pieces of popcorn chicken, topped with lemon braised onions and grated parmesan – these are delicious and I could eat a whole plate of these to myself, but in the interests of keeping Mrs T happy I do my best to resist! The roast broccoli with miso blue cheese ($12) is a great way to finish off and it’s a great example of incorporating western and Japanese flavours.
We finish off with the lemon tofu cheesecake with anzac crumb and pandan jelly ($8), which is light and fluffy and has just enough tofu flavour to let you know that you’re not eating a regular cheesecake. I hadn’t had tofu cheesecake before but am definitely a fan now!
Akiba is a terrific concept and is executed really well – both in terms of the vibe (I was impressed with the old school hip hop playing all night) and the quality of the food. I like that you can pop in for a quick bite, or work your way through the menu for a longer sitting. They also do yum cha every weekend, which I’ll be keen to go back for and try out!
- 40 Bunda Street, Canberra City
- (02) 6162 0602