40 Bunda Street Civic, Canberra ACT 2601
Hi all, K with another guest review. The second place I will be reviewing is a pan-Asian experience in the heart of the city. I’ve previously voiced my reservations about Asian fusion cuisine but Akiba has consistently been mentioned and ranked as one Canberra’s best bars and restaurants. Coupled with the fact that it was fortuitously open over the holiday period, I decided to see if my prejudices could be won over.
The décor is appropriately captured in the bright sign depicting the lit cities of the world. Akiba is bright, colour and international, though with a distinctly Asian twist. I can’t exactly call it subtle but it’s certainly effective and eye-catching. The open displays of fresh seafood, fish and produce also underlines the quality of their product and adds a sense of seaside freshness rarely found in inland Canberra.
Known more as a bar than a café I wasn’t expecting to be blown away by the coffee…and I wasn’t, but it was a solid affair that I had no complaints about it. Canberra has plenty of very well-known specialty coffee roasters and there’s no marks lost in providing a decent secondary product.
We decided to try a few smaller dishes rather than one of the larger share plates and started with these delicious sounding dumplings. The flavours were sufficiently strong, the dumplings were appropriately stuffed and the handmade skin added the appropriate amount of texture. Above average Asian Fusion dumplings and, while they’ll never replace a steaming pile of the homemade stuff, they are still an explosive twist.
Our second dish was amazing to begin with but rapidly suffered from the diminishing returns you get from fat cut potato and mayonnaise. The octopus was cooked excellently and the first bit was rich and satisfying but the lack of any freshness or acidity along with the disappointingly weak chili meant the dish became a struggle to finish. Probably one best ordered with a larger group.
Our last dish hit the balance of flavours much better though I would say the prawns were slightly on the overcooked side. Aside from the slightly tough meat the mayo was much more digestible and the butter really brought everything together.
Overall Akiba is an above-average Asian restaurant though their famous bar may add another dimension which I wasn’t able to experience this time. I would definitely recommend it to those who are seeking that twist on traditional Asian flavours and I rank it above other places which offer a similar style, but I can only see myself returning on the odd occasion.
Til next time!