Having waited tables and later managed restaurants and bars for several years, I know well the struggle of providing consistently good service night after night. I commend the folks at Akida for doing just that. My visits began, ended and were punctuated throughout with excellent service. I have rarely been treated better. Justin, Nicole and chefs Johnson and Kevin, you are excellent hosts. And the sushi and sashimi were superb.
The West End branch of Akida is nestled away in a strip mall. Shocking. In this most unappetizing strip of Broad Street, I feared my experience would be soured by the sense of eating in a shoe box. They are wise to have put the bamboo shades over the front windows, even though the focus within the restaurant is toward the rear where Johnson and Kevin do their thing. It is a clean, well-lighted place.
I love sushi but admit I am no connoisseur. Developing my taste for it has been hit or miss. I've spent plenty of money on "spicy disappointment rolls." Since my date a lovely girl, very adventurous in a culinary sort of way, but a relative sushi rookie was a bit worried about this whole experience going south, we decided to play dumb and let the good people help us. First, sake. We wondered if it was best before, during or after. Justin assured us that drinking sake before, during and after would be appropriate. We concurred. Which of the three specials would he recommend? He suggested the pepper tuna roll ($7.95). Chef Johnson chimed in that his favorite was the Manhattan roll ($9.95), while Chef Kevin preferred the dragon phoenix roll ($7.95). We took the lot.
Akida's fish is delivered daily from Maryland except for the yellowtail, which is flown in from Japan. It sounds silly, but Akida's sushi doesn't taste the least bit fishy. During a later visit we focused on sashimi (fish sans rice) to enjoy the slight shades of texture and flavor each fish had to offer.
There are so many possibilities that I don't have space to do much more than recommend what we found best. The spider roll (soft-shell crab rolled in seaweed and rice, $5.95), Manhattan roll (eel on top with shrimp tempura and flying fish roe inside), and the yellowtail ($2.50) and tuna ($2.50) sashimi were excellent. Prices are very reasonable. Take advantage of the combos ($8.95 _ $25) for the best value.
One of the pleasantest things about sushi is presentation. Let's face it, you're eating raw fish flesh, but it looks so good. Chefs Johnson and Kevin are masterful in their attention to detail. I have never failed to pause and admire the precise cuts and flourishes of color on the plates. The dragon roll is a work of art, some of the best origami I've ever eaten.
It is good to know that when my sushi jones comes creeping Akida is near. It is a comfortable, no-nonsense restaurant that eschews glitz, opting instead to deliver delicate food and exemplary service. Akida is a good experience. S
9039-3 W. Broad St. Richmond, VA 23294
Lunch: Monday _ Friday 11:30 a.m. _ 2:30 p.m.
Dinner: Monday _ Thursday 5 p.m. _ 10 p.m.,
Friday and Saturday 5 p.m. _ 11 p.m., Closed