Bisha Hotel has been the talk of the town for months now (actually years, if you count the build) and like everything else about the hotel, the restaurants and bars – Mister C. and Kost – are exquisitely designed offering guests a trendy yet luxurious vibe. The boutique hotel by Charles Khabouth and Lifetime has quickly become the place to be after work and on the weekend. To complete the “cool” factor of the hotel, Chef Akira Back recently opened his first namesake restaurant in Canada, offering Toronto his signature style cuisine of Japanese meets Korean.
Born in Korea and raised in Aspen, Back’s career was not always on target to becoming a celebrity Michelin-star chef. Fun fact: he started out as a professional snowboarder. But quickly thereafter, his career shifted to culinary after studying in Colorado and then becoming the youngest Executive Chef for Nobu Matsuhisa, of the Nobu restaurant group. His creative cuisine has since been highly recognized through his own restaurants on the Las Vegas strip and Internationally, appearances on the Food Network and let’s not forget the Michelin star he received for his restaurant DOSA in Seoul, South Korea.
Akira Back is a welcome addition to the booming culinary culture our city has been experiencing over the last decade, especially given that creative Japanese is fairly scarce. The 3000-square foot space, designed by the famed Studio Munge, exudes luxury and style while also having a traditional feel to it. At the very back of the restaurant lies a six-seat sushi bar for a front row seat to see the chefs at work.
To compliment the decor, the cocktail list focuses on the classics but with a stylish and Japanese twist.
Chef Back is well known for his fusion of Japanese and Korean food and the Akira Back menu certainly reflects this. From the tuna pizza, his signature Las Vegas dish, to the 48-hour wagyu short ribs, a nod to his mom’s Korean short ribs, the menu offers a unique combination of flavours that make it difficult to leave without wanting to return.
Back clearly has strong family values as on top of featuring mama Back’s short ribs, all the plates in the restaurant are designed by his mom and each feature her unique artwork.
It is no surprise that Akira Back has joined the powerhouse that be ICONINK and will no doubt become an important culinary destination – but from what we hear, don’t expect their usual restaurant turned loud bar/club as soon as 10pm hits. Akira Back seems to have evaded that ICONINK staple – so far. Until then, we can all enjoy good conversation over exceptional food and cocktails.