Transported from the heady bylanes of Kochi prefecture – on the southern coast of Shikoku – to the bustling streets of Bandra, Mumbai, the ancient warayaki cooking method is the shining star of the new Japanese fun dining establishment, Akina. The restaurant, with its bold approach to modern Japanese cuisine, aims to instill a sense of excitement and wonder through an innovative dining experience.
Incorporating straw for a greater burning temperature, the centuries-old warayaki cooking technique harnesses fires in the range of 800 to 900 degrees Celsius. The resultant food, seared by intense heat, retains its delicious succulence while exulting in a delicate smokey flavor. “It’s very primal: people, fire and food,” explains Dubai-based F&B Entrepreneur, Ryan SNR who has partnered with Hitesh Keswani, Founder & Director of Silver Beach Entertainment and Hospitality, to bring Akina to Mumbai.
Ryan SNR was previously engaged & operated several Dubai-based hospitality groups and has curated unique brands that guests can be stimulated by, immersed and left with an emotional touch to all of their senses with lifestyle and restaurant brands such as the Blue Marlin Ibiza UAE, The Act by The Box NYC, The Hatch Dubai, Cipriani and The Atlantis Resort over the two decades.
According to Hitesh, Akina encapsulates the sensibilities of a well-heeled traveler, one who’s been to the far East and West. “We’ve taken their Japanese cultural, knowledge, and traditions and fused them with Western ingredients and techniques, creating a whole new echelon of dining experiences,” says Hitesh, whose enterprise has been lauded with awards for Opa Kipos, Estella, Silver Beach Café and several other restaurants in Mumbai and Goa. “Now, we have brought that flavor to the frenetic shores of Mumbai.” This amalgamation of an intense passion for Japanese culture and the excitement for new adventures has become the bedrock of Akina’s offering.
As a contemporary Japanese restaurant and bar, Akina is a sensorial haven straddling heritage and innovation, blurring the lines between traditional and modern cooking techniques with ingenious mixology and a flair for the theatrical. The restaurant borrows its design sensibilities from the eponymous spring Japanese flower, spanning 5000 sqft.
Akina’s main space, which seats 85 guests, encompasses a beautiful maximalist aesthetic. This extends to the rest of the establishment that features a fine-tuned attention to detail. While a substantial portion of the dinnerware and crockery is handmade by indigenous artisans and imported from Japan, Ryan SNR wanted to support the Indian local artisan community too. The end result is a selection of beautiful handmade ware from both countries, underscored by intricate design sensibilities that complement the restaurant’s overarching focus on understated opulence.
Then there’s the Akina Privé Lounge, envisioned to be an oasis of warmth, mystery and magic accommodating fewer people, about 30 to 35. The discerning patron’s delight is a disconnect from Mumbai’s hustle and bustle enveloped in lush velvet and suede for a more intimate gathering. Beneath the rippled patterned lucid canopy, you can relax and settle into your evening, indulging in a selection of contemporary Japanese tapas and small bites or perch elegantly at the impressive cocktail bar. There’s also an upcoming rooftop space as part of Akina’s phase two plans.
Akina’s menu has been curated by Hitesh and Ryan SNR but spearheaded by culinary wizard Chef Jesse Blake, renowned for his successful kitchens in Perth, Australia. He’s been the culinary genius backing restaurants such as Double Rainbow Bar & Eating House and Servo. Most recently, he was the Executive Chef at LOWE in Dubai, awarded the Sustainable Restaurant Award 2022 by ‘The world’s 50 best Restaurants’ in the Middle East and North Africa region.
Ryan SNR adds, “The whole Akina team is proud to call ourselves experience creators and we wanted to create something spectacularly unique. I believe we’ve done that. Akina is polished, playful and luxurious.”
Akina will be operational seven days a week for dinner service (for a few weeks into the opening) from 7 p.m. till 1.30 a.m.