A new global outpost of Pan-Asian fare arrives in the city
Akira Back Bangkok is the latest global offering from the award-winning Korean-born, American-raised chef who has outposts of his eponymous restaurant from Vegas to Hanoi. Now Bangkok.
This is the first Akira Back restaurant in Thailand, set within the Marriott Marquis Queen’s Park Hotel on the 37th floor, accessible via a swanky, dedicated elevator. The design is quaternary, comprising a main dining area, sushi bar, omakase bar and four private dining rooms. The main space is understatedly dark and soothing, big and sprawling.
Firstly, there’s a refreshing Yuzu Sour (B360) cocktail, then I’m presented with a small, black stone in which two diverts hold a little water and a tightly-bound white hand/face cleanser. I remove the cloth, adding it to the water so it increases in size. It’s a nifty trick and I can’t see how anything else that’ll follow can top it. Anyway, I’ll whizz through some of the food from the long, bewildering menu that compels you to over-order.
By concentrating and cross-checking the prices you can get out for less than 2,000 Baht for two. Otherwise, explore too deeply and the bill could skyrocket. There’s Yellowtail Tartare and Toro Caviar; and Seared Albacore, Miso Black Cod, Grilled Octopus and 48-Hour Wagyu Short Rib.
There are Akira Signature Dishes, too. I opt for these and order Tuna Pizza (B430), thinly-sliced tuna atop a crisp Mexican tortilla, layered with umami aioli and white truffle oil. It’s fine, but doesn’t need the truffle oil. Then, four delicious AB tacos (B340), the mini corn-casings holding a wonderfully sweet, Korean-influenced wagyu bulgogi—literally “fire meat”—with roasted tomato ponzu; followed by King Crab Legs (B980) with pickled shimeji, a plate I’d happily go back for.
Unlike other sushi joints of a similar ilk, portions sizes are generous; signature rolls of “Hot Mess” (B410) arrive as eight, plump squares concealing spicy crab, sashimi poke, garlic and avocado, liberally anointed with sriracha. They’re a little punchy but not “hot” as advertised, the sriracha drizzle tasting more like a mutant béchamel. Then, Lamb Chops (B580) in a spicy Korean kochujang marinade has the most punch of the evening; a thick and intensely flavoured kochujang is powerful on the palate, but the two lamb chops are thickset and visibly fatty.
When I comment on the pretty and artistic plate designs, I’m told that they’re made by the chef’s mother, ensuring a family-touch is evident whatever branch of the restaurant you’re dining in. I like them, but when you’re complimenting a restaurant on its crockery instead of its food, then there’s a problem. That’s not to say that the cooking is bad, it isn’t, but I struggle with such expansive, Pan-Asian menus in which dishes jump from imported Japanese, Korean and Australian ingredients, then apply varying techniques and styles.
Puddings are a bit of an after thought, so much so that they don’t appear on the menu—in restaurant or online—and when I enquire, am recommended a Honey Yoghurt Panna Cotta (B160), which arrives with fresh raspberries and blueberries, and concealing popping rocks. A coconut sorbet is placed on top. It’s creamy and refreshing, much needed in this up-and-down menu boasting a profusion of complex flavours.
By David J. Constable
Bangkok Marriott Marquis Queen’s Park 199 Sukhumvit Soi 22
Open: Mon-Sun, Dinner, 6pm-11pm,
Tel: 02 059 5999Set featured image