A couple of weeks ago some friends and I were trawling down Essex Road in search of a bar that was showing the Eurovision Final. En route we passed Akari and my friend, Kristian, exclaimed that it is an excellent Japanese restaurant. I've now had lunch there twice and can only agree with him.
I walk past Akari every day on my way to work and have long been wondering what the deal is. From the outside it looks like your standard pub. Even once inside the decor is akin to many other London pubs with lots of dark wood, green ceramic tiles, ornamented mirrors and so on.
The menu, however, is entirely Japanese - noodles, sushi, sashimi, teriyaki, edamame etc. It always looks quite busy in the evenings and on both visits we were surrounded by several other groups of people. Unlike the cafes and restaurants on Upper Street which are packed on Saturdays for lunch, you can easily get a table at Akari. It is just far enough away from the crowds. A big plus in my world.
At lunch you can choose between a set of lunch specials and the regular dishes - not necessarily practical for someone as indecisive as me, but an impressive choice nonetheless.
The lunch deals are reasonable, e.g. £9 gets you salmon teriyaki, a big bowl of rice and miso soup or 4 big salmon & avocado hand rolls and miso soup. I tried both these today and very much enjoyed them. Last week I tried the chicken teriyaki and chicken katsu. Both were delicious.
The sushi is also good and there's no stinginess on the wasabi or pickled ginger.
All in all, I'd recommend Akari. I'm not sure I'd cross London for it, but I'm very happy to have it in my neighbourhood. The food is good and the service is friendly and efficient. Mr. Sprinkle, my mum and my cousin who I've shared my meals with here have all been happy with the food and overall experience too.
Akari is located on the corner of Essex Road and Canonbury Road across from Essex Road rail station. It is a 20 minute walk from Angel tube station. 196 Essex Road N1 8LZ. Tel: 0207 226 9943