Akaiito is full of brooding black marble, dark granite flooring and plush grey banquettes, but these all defer to the luminous red thread installation that twists its way across the ceiling of the dining room before plunging down into the underground bar. That thread represents akai ito, which is a staple of Japanese mythology – it’s a red thread connecting those destined to meet. It may twist and turn, but it never breaks.
The best way to experience Akaiito is through the omakase (chef’s selection) menu. Nab a spot at one of 18 stools that surround the open kitchen and settle in to a menu which changes every day and can differ for every booking.
You might start with miso soup with clams, then a skewered sot-l’y-laisse (a French term for chicken oyster, the two small oval-shaped pieces of meat on either side of the backbone), followed by robata-grilled marron with kombu butter, or some tempura scampi with scampi caviar. Or shiromi (white fish) tartare topped with horseradish cream, finger lime and a hint of tea tree oil.
If you forego the theatrics of the omakase, there’s a great a la carte menu, too. Don’t miss the fried rice with Wagyu, shiitake and pine nuts, with a popping candy effect courtesy of salty cod roe.
Place a sake order and a small box of handmade cups will be presented for you to choose from. Or there’s a range of Australian, New Zealand and French wine by the glass and bottle. Downstairs in the basement bar, order from the tight cocktail list – the Smoking Gun – made with Laphroaig whisky and a lot of theatrics – is a highlight.