It was pretty thrilling to walk into the new AKIKOS at The Avery at Avery Lane in SoMa for their launch party last month. Chef-owner Ray Lee is on a tear—he recently opened the exclusive sushi counter, Friends Only, and now this 2,700-square-foot, chic sushi stadium, designed by AvroKO. When you walk in, there’s a bar and waiting area that feels like a stylish 1980s museum in a sauna where you’ll be able to get one of Quade Marshall’s cocktails or a glass of Champagne before heading up a few steps intro the dining room.
The room is dramatically centered around a 24-seat chef’s stage and island, where Ray, head sushi chef Shinsuke Hayashi, and the team of chefs will unfold the omakase show. Ray is continuing to use dry agers on his exquisitely and sustainably sourced, single line-caught fish like he’s doing at Friends Only for optimal flavor and texture. The omakase tasting (for dinner, it’s $250, while lunch service is an abbreviated menu for $150) begins with a selection of otsumami (appetizers), such as dry-aged and smoked sashimi; chawanmushi with snow crab, black truffle, and roasted scallion oil; Hokkaido wagyu beef dumplings wrapped in puff pastry with aged Parmesan; and shokupan, grilled milk bread topped with toro and kaluga caviar. The nigiri selection can include zuke—a 10-day, dry-aged, soy-cured bluefin tuna—to kamasu (young barracuda), to akamutsu (a favorite, deep sea perch), followed by housemade, seasonal ice cream for dessert. Ray is always innovating and working on something (Friends Only is his R&D lab), so his regulars can count on a new experience every time they visit.
The design is so visually pleasing and quite stunning, with warm and gleaming wood planks throughout, drawing inspiration from the 1970 Osaka Exhibition, as well as Frank Lloyd Wright, with geometric shapes and unexpected components, like when the chefs open drawers within their stations, a pop of color will be exposed. There are 46 seats total, with a curtained, semi-private dining room.
It’s pretty wild to remember the intimate counter and dark Akikos room when it was downtown (Ray’s parents opened the business in 1987, and he took over in 2009), and then to look at this spacious, dramatic, custom-designed room, outfitted with the best of everything, and a full bar. You’ve come a long way, baby! Open Tue-Fri 11:30am-1:30pm for lunch and Tue-Sat 5:30pm-8:30pm for dinner. 430 Folsom St. at Fremont.
The jaw-dropping design of the new Akikos at The Avery. Photo: Garrett Rowland.