AKIRA BACK

Food and Travel (Singapore) - - Reviews -

THE BUZZ A for­mer pro­fes­sional snow­boarder, chef Akira Back took an in­ter­est in the culi­nary arts and has since worked un­der famed Ja­panese chefs such as Masa­haru Mo­ri­moto and Nobu Mat­suhisa. He has more than a few restau­rants to his name but it is Yel­low­tail Ja­panese Res­tau­rant & Lounge in Las Ve­gas that has earned him var­i­ous ac­co­lades.

AM­BI­ENCE Phillipe Starck’s phi­los­o­phy of demo­cratic de­sign and state­ment fur­nish­ings, such as lights that looks like a tan­gle of mul­ti­ple lamp­shades and antlers, runs through the en­tire JW Mar­riott Sin­ga­pore South Beach ho­tel and Akira Back. At one end is a life-sized LED screen dis­play­ing an ab­stract paint­ing by Back’s mother, which over­looks a long com­mu­nal din­ing table meant to bol­ster a con­vivial ex­pe­ri­ence for cus­tomers.

FOOD & DRINK Although Back’s Korean her­itage and Ja­panese culi­nary back­ground gives his food the po­ten­tial to be as colour­ful, his cre­ations tend to grav­i­tate to­wards safer and more pre­dictable flavour pro­files.

There are, of course, a few ex­cep­tions that show­case his in­ge­nu­ity such as the Tuna (S$25) and Mush­room Pizza (S$18) – thin slices of tuna sashimi or oys­ter mush­room over a creamy ponzu mayo on a bis­cuit-like crust then topped with truf­fle oil and mi­cro shiso. We were di­vided as to which was bet­ter but could all agree one slice wasn’t enough. An­other was the Jeju Red Snap­per (S$23) served with a gar­nish of to­biko (fly­ing fish roe) and a dab of gochu­jang; a be­fit­ting homage to his na­tive coun­try, af­ter all noth­ing is more Korean than the spicy fer­mented bean paste. A plush in­te­rior and for­get­table mod­ern Ja­panese plates make for a com­pelling first date; we’re gen­er­ally im­pressed but we’re not sure if we’ll agree to a sec­ond.

Not all kinds of sashimi ben­e­fit from a strongflavoured mari­nade. The flesh of Hokkaido scal­lop (S$28) on its own is nat­u­rally sweet and soft, re­quir­ing just a re­fresh­ing touch of citrus. Back’s take of the shell­fish came with slices of kiwi, sea­weed caviar and a some­what over­pow­er­ing yuzu radish.

The first hot dish we had was the Cana­dian Lob­ster (S$110) cooked just right. Cut into thick slices to share, the crus­tacean was paired with an umami but­ter made from chicken stock and nori paste. Take each bite with the ac­com­pa­ny­ing gar­nish of hearts on fire leaves, a sor­rel-like mi­cro-green, and sea beans suc­cu­lents for an in­trigu­ing com­bi­na­tion of tex­tures.

Next came the rel­a­tively con­ser­va­tive mains of Line Caught Pa­cific Hal­ibut (S$30), Ji-dori Chicken (S$28) and Mar­garet River Rib­eye (S$65). The Hal­ibut, seared on the top and bot­tom gave a nice crisp to the soft white fish, went well with a clas­sic soy beurre blanc sauce while the creamy truf­fle potato puree stood out the most in the Ji-dori Chicken dish. Prob­a­bly the best of the bunch was the Rib­eye, done medium rare then sea­soned with char­coal salt that gives it an in­tense smok­i­ness and pick­led wasabi but­ter sauce.

We ended the meal with sour cherry cham­pagne gran­ite and tiny marsh­mal­low knots in a dessert called Yuja (S$12) and a glass of Yam­abudo-shu (S$21 for a glass, S$99 for a bot­tle), which is a blend of Jun­mai sake in­fused with ume (plum blos­som fruit) and wild grapes. Al­ter­na­tively, have your choice of night­cap when you choose from any of the four sake that the res­tau­rant gets from Nanbu Bi­jin brew­ery in Ja­pan’s Iwate Pre­fec­ture. AD­DRESS 30 Beach Road

TEL 65/68180-1914

OPEN­ING HOURS Tues­day to Satur­day (in­clud­ing PH) 6pm-11pm for din­ner Closed on Mon­day and Sun­day

WEB­SITE www.jw­mar­riottsin­ga­pore. com/din­ing

PRICE Soups from S$5 Shared Plates from S$15 Sal­ads from S$12 Sushi and Sashimi from S$10 Mains from S$30

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