Latest opening: Akira Back

By Restaurant

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Latest opening: Akira Back

Related tags Akira Back Restaurant Mandarin oriental hotel London Japanese cuisine

The new Mandarin Oriental Mayfair hotel has welcomed a superstar Korean chef to its ranks.

What:​ A modern Japanese restaurant located in the newly built Mandarin Oriental Mayfair hotel on London’s Hanover Square in the space that was once home to real estate company Jones Lang LaSalle for 30 years. 

Who:​ The restaurant is named after Seoul-born but Colorado-raised chef Akira Back. Back is something of a character having previously been a professional snowboarder but more recently has swapped doing burger flips (the snowboarding kind) for actual cooking and has built an impressive restaurant empire in the process. He currently operates 26 restaurants internationally, including locations in Paris, Las Vegas, Dubai, Beverly Hills, Toronto, Singapore, Istanbul, Doha, Marrakech, Dallas, Delray Beach, Bangkok, Seoul, and Riyadh, with openings in Rome, San Francisco, Greece, Taipei, Montana, Bali, Jakarta and Florence planned within the next 2 years. 


The food:​ Back’s dishes are described as being influenced by memories of his childhood in Korea, combined with his global travels and love of Japanese cuisine. The menu is predominantly divided into cold and hot dishes as well as signature rolls and a selection of sushi and sashimi for diners to share, although there are a handful of main dishes on offer as well. Signature dishes include a tuna pizza (pictured above) – thinly sliced tuna and ponzu sauce on a wafer-thin crisp base with white truffle oil that reveals artwork on a plate as slices are eaten; and the excellent Hot Mess, sushi rolls made with sashimi poke, crab tempura, and spicy ponzu aioli. Exclusive to London is the wagyu tempura wellington, which sees the traditional UK dish cooked in tempura rather than pastry. Being in a hotel the restaurant also serves breakfast and lunch menus. For breakfast traditional morning dishes such as avocado on toast, smoked salmon and scrambled eggs, and a full English rub shoulders with those from Asia, such as a pine nut and mushroom porridge with mixed mushrooms, steamed rice, and kimchi; yuzu honey toast; and a breakfast bento of tamagoyaki, trout teriyaki, yuzu soy, mushrooms, spinach salad, sushi rice, miso soup, sliced fruit and berries. For lunch there’s a pared back offer of the hot and cold dishes as well as a range of four bento boxes and four donburi dishes as well as a strong sushi and sashimi selection. 

To drink:​ The restaurant’s wine list is international with many wines available by the glass, half bottle and bottle. There is also a separate bar area called ABar Lounge that serves a range of cocktails that take a contemporary approach to the classics. Signature serves include the Bouquet of Guangzhou, which blends discarded grape skin vodka, St. Germain, lacto fermented peaches, chrysanthemum and burdock bitter, agave and Moet & Chandon Brut Imperial NV; and the Javapolitan, a mix of Fair organic quinoa Vodka, Cointreau, clarified cranberry, lime, Indian spices and butterfly pea tea. 


The vibe:​ Diners descend a staircase into the148-cover dining room which is surprisingly light given its subterranean location thanks to large ceiling windows that run the length of the room. The long dining space is divided into two, with a main area featuring booth seating to the left and tables and chairs across the aisle and then there’s a further dining space beyond some columns including three private dining rooms, named Chi, Sui and Ka (meaning earth, water and fire in Japanese philosophy) for eight, 12 and 16 diners respectively. The colour palette is muted with greys, blacks and white the dominant colours, in keeping with the general Mandarin Oriental effect. The result is a dining room that does have the slight feel of an airport lounge given its long layout and ceiling height, but which is also an impressive sight as you walk the circular staircase down into it. 

And another thing:​ Back is also relocating his Michelin-starred concept Dosa to the restaurant, which is accessed by a small unassuming door close to ABar Lounge. The 14-seater counter-style chef’s table takes its name from the word ‘gifted’ in Korean rather than from the thin, savoury crepe found in South Indian cooking and will serve a set menu inspired by the four seasons when it opens later in the summer. 

22 Hanover Square, Mayfair, London, W1S 1JP

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