3.5 £25

Akari, N1

An authentic Japanese Izakaya in an old pub

Akari self-advertises as a Japanese Izakaya, or a Japanese drinking establishment that also serves food. While it feels much more like a restaurant than a bar, this essentially means Akari is a Japanese gastro-pub. Instead of ale, you’ll find a wide range of asian inspired drinks, and a vast menu of Asian fusion food items, with a heavy Japanese influence.

Akari is located on the corner of Essex and New North Road across from Essex Road Rail station. The facade is attractive with their name burned into a wooden tree slice hanging above the door. Inside, you really do feel like you’re in an old, spruced up pub, with copious amounts of mahogany, large in-set mirrors in arches and oversized wooden tables. There are some small Japanese touches done tastefully to remind you that you’re not about to chug down ale and chips. The waiters are all very friendly, and as we apparently got there somewhat early for their weeknight rush (7:30) they seemed overstaffed at first, though as the venue filled later, we understood the 8 waiters lingering around. The oversized wooden bar is elegant and serves as the sushi rolling station, with the kitchen hidden in the back. This is nice as you don’t get smoke or kitchen sounds, but still have the authenticity of chefs making your food in front of you.

I was overwhelmed by the cocktail menu but eager to try something new. I asked our waiter what he’d recommend and he advised I go for the Yuzu-Hi (£4.30), which was a great lemony-lime choice. Stu had an Asahi (£4.50), and they have a large variety of other asian beers. For food, I ordered a Miso Soup (£2.50), the Buta Kimuchi (£3.90), and the Yasai Tempura (£7.90). Stu ordered the Inari Zushi (£3.00), the Salmon Avocado Roll (£4.80), the Sea Bass Nigiri (£2.60) and the White Tuna Nigiri (£2.60). I found the Miso Soup a bit too fishy, and the Buta Kimuchi (sliced pork with bean sprouts and kimchee) was not to my taste either, and I wound up switching starters with Stu, who enjoyed both those dishes. I happily devoured his Inari Zushi (fried tofu pouch filled with rice and sauce), which was incredibly delicious. The tempura was expertly done, though the dipping sauce was bland and could have benefitted from more tang. Stu enjoyed all of the sushi dishes he ordered. For dessert, I sprang for the Chocolate Tofu Mousse (£4.80)with amaretto, pistachio and mint. It was good, though you couldn’t taste much of the interesting additions. Stu had the Cheesecake (£4.30), which was done well, though with no Asian twist.

  • Akari, N1

    Sushi

  • Akari, N1

    Buta Kimuchi

  • Akari, N1

    Yasai Tempura

  • Akari, N1

    Cheesecake

  • Akari, N1

    Inari Zushi

  • Akari, N1

    Chocolate Tofu Mousse

Overall, we really enjoyed the experience. I was impressed with the selection, the authenticity of the food, and the atmosphere, which is a real selling point of the venue. However, I do think they’ve toned down the flavours a bit for a Western palette, which can be either a good or a bad thing, depending on what you’re looking for. While I found that my choices could have used more flavour (granted, I did not go for any fish options), Stu found his choices tasty and interesting. If you’re looking to try new foods and drinks that can’t be found at most London restaurants, Akari is a great place to explore this, especially with a knowledgable staff who can make decent recommendations. The menu also explains the options, which is a great help for anyone unfamiliar with Japanese fare.  The food is priced so you can order a number of things to encourage trying a variety of dishes, like a Japanese tapas. Weeknights are busy but seem to pick up after 8, so you should be able to get a table without reserving if you show up a bit earlier.

Posted in: 3 Star, Dinner, Japanese, North London, Restaurants, Sushi

The Bill

2 Diners
Miso Soup £2.50
Inari Zushi £3.00
Buta Kimuchi £3.90
Salmon Avocado Roll £4.80
White Tuna Nigiri £2.60
Seabass Nigiri £2.60
Yasai Tempura £7.90
Chocolate Tofu Mousse £4.80
Cheese Cake £4.30
Asahi Pint £4.50
Yuzu-Hi £4.30
Total 49.72
Per person £24.86

Contact Info

196 Essex Road,
London N1 8LZ

020 7226 9943
www.akarilondon.co.uk

Square Meal
Akari on Urbanspoon

View on map

The Author

Andrea Kennedy
2 reviews

Andrea Kennedy is an American living in London since 2010. She has travelled to over 30 countries and gorged on delicious dishes all over the world. Andrea loves cooking, and her favourite type of food falls under the Asian category, with Vietnamese and Thai being her top-two contenders. She has done freelance writing for Groupon, USA Today, Livestrong, and Bootsnall Travel. She is currently retraining to become a web developer with General Assembly London.

Read Next

Bodeans (Soho), W1

bodeans-1024x768

Need no teef to eat my beef

Jackson + Rye, W1D

jackson-rye-lobster-mac-n-cheese

Soggy fried chicken is hard to forgive but Jackson + Rye deserves a second chance

Polpo (Smithfield), EC1

IMG_2486

We went to see what all the fuss is about... and we're none the wiser

Banana Tree Soho, W1

banana-tree-rendang

Quality, authentic Indochinese cuisine

Asakusa, NW1

belly

Breakfast at Tiffany's ... I'd rather have dinner at Asakusa!

Zoe Restaurant, N1

zoe-restaurant-escargots

Ranked '#32 of 12,026 restaurants in London' - questionable?

OA Com Tam, N7

oa-com-tam-prawn-summer-rolls

Authentic Vietnamese on Holloway Road...? I didn't believe it either but it's true!

New Fujiyama, SW9

fujiyama_yakitori_don-900x675

Fantastic value Japanese hidden in Brixton

Byron (Islington), N1

byron-900x1200

A growing chain serving up simple, tasty hamburgers

Jones & Sons, E8

jones-and-sons-dalston-open-kitchen

A modern, friendly restaurant serving up the best British cuisine I've had for a long time

Flesh & Buns, WC2

seabass

Japanese izakaya spot from the chef who brought us Bone Daddies

The Castle, N1

IMG_2626

Lunch on a sunny Angel roof terrace – what could possibly go wrong?