|address||Unit 1-2 Castleknock Village Centre, Dublin 15|
|phone||01 810 3568|
Though not exactly in the city centre, Akasaka is only a short bus ride away, so there is absolutely no excuse for Trinity students to miss out on this very authentic, Japanese culinary experience. For any of you unfamiliar with Castleknock, just hop on the 37 bus, which leaves from Dame Street, right in front of Ulster Bank, and it will take you directly to Akasaka (ask the driver to let you know when you are at the stop nearest to Myos pub). The restaurant’s exterior is unassuming, with a traditional Japanese window display of the treats that await. The décor is charming, and a lot more appealing than most Japanese restaurants in Dublin.
The great thing about Akasaka is that the food is still of a superb standard after a year in the area – bucking the somewhat alarming trend followed by many new restaurants which tend to flag a little once they pass their first year. I would recommend the Menu B option; at 38€ per person, it is a great initiation into Japanese cuisine, and positively delectable. The portions are surprisingly filling and a world away from nouvelle cuisine.
I was pleasantly surprised with the main beef dish on the menu as it was, quite simply, the most tender, succulent beef I have ever tasted in my life. The dish exquisitely combines tender meat and crunchy vegetables, bringing them together in gastronomic harmony with a wonderfully zingy sauce. The whole party agreed that the beef was a surprise favourite, even managing to outshine the delightful teriyaki duck breast. Had we larger stomachs, we may well have ordered seconds. The Sushi platter is fantastic, and probably the best I have had in Dublin to date. Just remember not to skip on the ginger sheets and wasabi. There is also a great deal on offer for vegetarians, with some great tofu dishes. The agedashi tofu starter is worthy of special note. For once, the vegetarian in our party had no complaints – just an enormous smile.
The waitresses are very friendly, helpful and competent – no faults when it comes to service. However, it has to be said that the music may not be to everyone’s taste. There is a fine selection of wines and Japanese drinks. We chose Kirin Japanese beer, which complimented the dishes quite well, and was relatively inexpensive at €4.80 a bottle. The only compromise on traditional Japanese cuisine is the serving of miso soup at the beginning of the meal – hardly a bad thing. One word of warning: be prepared to use chopsticks. Despite our increasingly cosmopolitan nature here in Ireland, mastery of their use still eludes a high proportion of people. It is actually quite surprising how easy it is to learn how to use chopsticks, but, then again, we were hungry.
Desserts are not really a feature of Japanese cuisine, but a Japanese green tea hits the spot, in addition to aiding digestion. Remember, though, that Japanese green tea has more depth to its flavour than the Chinese mainstream variety. A fantastic restaurant, then, and one that remains affordable in comparison with its Chinese counterparts. Once you try it, you will understand why it has such a great reputation. Those willing to make the short trip out to Castleknock will be rewarded most generously. To put it simply: this restaurant is a must-try.