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Hiroshima

AKAI

AKAI

A self-declared minimalist, Akai’s owner/chef holds few possessions, not even a business card – that traditionally essential item in Japanese culture. He values every life in every sense, carefully selecting local produce and working his culinary magic to maximize the innate flavors in their freshest form. He is passionate about taste and confident in the quality of the ingredients and the caliber of his cuisine.

The floating temple gate of Miyajima is a quintessentially Japanese sight that tourists flock from around the globe to see. Perched on a small hill just a ten-minute walk from JR Miyajimaguchi Station – the entrance to the World Heritage-listed Itsukushima Shrine — is an 80-year-old traditional Japanese home. This is the venue for Akai, which opened in May 2019.

A Hiroshima native, Kenji Akai always wanted to open a restaurant close to home. And if people are going to travel to dine on his cuisine, what better place than here, Miyajima? Akai wants to indulge guests in ingredients, crafts, and tableware by local artisans. They can savor the fruits of the terroir in Hiroshima and the greater Setouchi region, with ingredients procured directly from suppliers the chef has personally met. From seafood and other proteins to olive oil, miso, eggs, cheese, and fresh cream, the vitality of ingredients is paramount. There are no overdone techniques here. Akai wants to create honest cuisine that is simply delicious.

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CUISINE

A self-declared minimalist

Akai's lunch and dinner courses contain ten dishes featuring the best ingredients prepared to accentuate their flavor based on their condition that season. They emerge as cold dishes, hot dishes, raw dishes, and grilled dishes in a deliciously balanced course that concludes with a rice dish, then baked pudding and coffee.

The beautiful waters of Etajima on the Seto Inland Sea are renowned for Iwagaki oyster production. The young native Japanese oysters served straight are fresh and flavorful with a milky texture, and the clean flavor is perfect with a refreshing accent of sudachi citrus gelee. In summer, a cold appetizer of summer vegetables features tomato, okra, chili peppers, and Kagawa Mitoyo eggplant topped with a gelled highly nutritious broth extracted from softshell turtles from Yamaguchi.

Following may be a dish of washed ayu sweetfish with vinegared cucumbers. A summer specialty, the fresh sweetfish comes from Usagawa, Yamaguchi, and is filleted and rinsed in a method known to remove unwanted fat and smells and produce wonderfully fresh flavor and texture. With an ingredient like sweetfish, whose lives are already short, the chef selects a preparation method to accentuate freshness and convey the life energy of the fish. Veal meatballs with carrot purée feature veal raised in nearby Miyoshi, Hiroshima, accompanied by a sauce made from bone broth and black vinegar. The sweet, smooth carrot purée is a perfect match for the springy meatball texture. Chargrilled butterfish from Tomonoura on the Seto Inland Sea is first marinated for two hours in sweet shiro miso from Okayama Prefecture’s Meitou Miso Honpo. The steamed and stir-fried cabbage and a sanbaizu vinegar sauce made with kombu stock perfectly complement the slightly sweet plump flesh.

Dessert is the house specialty baked pudding made with milk and fresh cream from Mirasaka Fromage in Miyoshi, Hiroshima, and fertilized, cage-free eggs from North Hiroshima farmer Iwasaki. It’s smooth. It’s rich. It’s unforgettable.

INGREDIENTS
The focus when it comes to ingredients is proximity, and Hiroshima is blessed with an abundance of produce within the prefecture or on its doorstep: seafood from the Seto Inland Sea, proteins and vegetables from local farmers, and incredible seasonings can all be found nearby. Only the best beef each season is supplied from further afield. The chef travels over an hour daily to fetch water from the lush natural surroundings of Yukicho town.

Chef Akai carefully selects wines to pair with his cuisine, with French, Japanese, and low-intervention wines from around the globe available by the bottle and in pairing courses.

AKAI cuisine #0
AKAI cuisine #1

CHEF

Kenji Akai

A Hiroshima native, Kenji Akai was born in 1983 to an excellent cook for a mother who was very particular about seasonings and ingredients. It instilled in Akai a love for cooking and eating from a young age. He worked part-time at an Italian restaurant during high school and then full-time at Italian restaurants in Hiroshima and Fukuoka after graduating. He was later entrusted with cuisine at a Hiroshima wine bar where he had previously worked, and the combination of French wine’s deep history and the complexity of the cuisine blew him away. He was rapt. Akai traveled to the Kansai region to try every famous French restaurant, absorbing knowledge on cooking methods and intricate techniques specific to French cuisine – a totally different world to Italian cuisine where his career began.

An unrequited dream to train at a top French restaurant in Japan was all the motivation Akai needed to work and save enough money to move to France at age 30. He undertook 18 months of training at Le Relais Louis XIII in central Paris, took a brief trip home, and then departed again, this time to three-star Michelin Pic in Valence, along the Rhone River in southeastern France. He climbed the ladder and was ultimately entrusted with roasting and grilling. These two classical French experiences have become incredible assets in Akai’s career.

Upon return to Japan, Akai entered the 2017 RED U-35 young Japanese chef contest, which every year seeks to unearth the next generation of Japanese chefs, and he won a RED EGG – the grand prize. He went on to open Akai in May 2019. As in cuisine, Akai endeavors to keep his life simple and minimalist. Days off are frequently steeped in preparation, and the only non-work activity he pours his heart into is Brazilian Jujitsu. It is a way to maintain his health and build a strong body as the base for a long career cooking delicious food.

VISION
Akai’s vision is about creating simple, stress-free cuisine. He says the deeper he probes, the more he strips away; in the extreme, the flavor goal is something close to water. He seeks to get to the core of an ingredient, and understanding each item’s potential is essential in that process. He has no sights on adding restaurants but dreams about opening an auberge. And while not currently on the menu, he is considering creating a packaged version of his popular Hayashi rice beef dish.

COFFEE

During his Paris working days, Akai witnessed the owner/chef preparing coffee for guests, showing dedication to personalizing their experience from start to finish. Akai resolved to do the same when he opened his own restaurant. Using medium to dark roast Colombian beans supplied by Hiroshima roastery Mount Coffee, the chef prepares drip coffee with beans ground in front of guests and 85°-water boiled in an iron kettle. It is the perfect cup and pairing for his homemade baked pudding.

Course

Lunch/ Dinner
AKAI OMAKASE COURSE
  • The price includes our booking fee of ¥8,000
  • The price includes our booking fee of ¥8,000
¥25,500
¥25,500
Reservation Request

Hiroshima

AKAI

AKAI

PRICE
¥25,500
~
CHILD
10
& UP
LUNCH
OPEN
MIN GUESTS
1
PERSON
~
GENRE
Innovative, Miyajmaguchi
ADDRESS
1F, 4-3-41, Miyajimaguchi, Hatsukaichi, Hiroshima
OPEN
Lunh: 11:45AM, Dinner: 6:45PM
CLOSED
Thursday, Friday
URL
NA
PHONE
NA

RESERVATION

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