Akai, Kyoto

May 13, 2010

On April 17, 2010, we were invited by Hiroshi and Harumi to dinner at Akai, a restaurant near their art gallery. Akai was opened three years ago by its chef, Hiroki Abe. It may be the smallest Michelin one-star restaurant in the world with only seven places, expanded unusually to eight for us so that we could all sit together in the back three-seat section.

On arrival, we were served a little cup of light tea with puffed rice and cherry blossoms.

The door back to the kitchen is between the counter section with our four seats and the four seats at the counter to the right. On the tray are sake cups for selection by the diner.

We were each given a lacquer tray with a red house napkin and a shallow saucer used for aperitif sake.

This was the bottle for the next sake.


The first course had a base of a pea puree with fiddleheads and udo, a spring mountain green.

The puree had a nice, strong flavor of fresh spring peas. On the right you can see my choice of sake cup.

A piece of white fish and a light dumpling in broth.

Sashimi of uni (sea urchin), sea bream and squid.

Very good.

A tray with the next course for the four of us was then presented. There were also four little bowls with sort of a coiled fish terrine, a red potato cube and a superb orange fish ball.

This was my lovely serving. There were shredded bamboo shoots in the bowl at the lower left; in the center is a fish liver; on top is a firefly squid on top of fish slices. Hiding in the inside of a bamboo shoot are pieces of eel sushi, sea bream and omelette. Everything was delicious.

The next serving of sake came in this bowl.

Shredded bonito, seaweed, fu (wheat gluten) and tofu.


Grilled sea bass, braised bamboo shoot and rice wine vinegar with kinome and grated daikon.
The grilling was perfect.

Rice with lovely pickles and miso soup.


Mixed fruit with a jelly; a cherry leaf around sweet rice around a red bean paste.


Sugary tea candies.

The chef, Hiroki Abe, said goodbye to us outside the front door as we left.

Our meal was excellent in all respects: quality of the ingredients, preparation and presentation. The pace was just right and the ambience was delightful. The Michelin star is more than deserved. Bravo Hiroki. Thank you Hiroshi and Harumi.

One Response to “Akai, Kyoto”

  1. Nick Says:

    I just dined here last week and found your blog while looking to see how well-known this restaurant is in the English-speaking world. Very good reviews! I’m now combing through your recent posts for NY and SF ideas.

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