Chef Akira Back, whose flashy and fun Asian restaurants have spread internationally to Dubai, Beverly Hills, Las Vegas, Seoul and Singapore, is opening a sushi bar in The Colony, a suburb of Dallas.
The restaurant (which is called Akira Back, after its celebrity chef) opens May 6, 2022 in Grandscape, the mega development next to the Nebraska Furniture Mart that was funded by billionaire Warren Buffett.
A restaurant from a Michelin-star chef might seem like it’s suited to the bright lights and big city of Dallas or Houston, but Back says he loves the community around The Colony and felt connected to the developers, who bring serious restaurants and retail in the suburbs, at great expense.
Akira Back will be one of the hottest destinations for date nights and business meetings at Grandscape.
Despite building on the ground – in an area that was once a giant field of grass – Akira Back isn’t as giant as it probably could have been. The restaurant seats just over 150 people indoors and outdoors, and it overlooks a man-made pond in front of busy State Highway 121.
The restaurant is accented with Mother of Back’s art, an abstract blend of soft colors that can be seen on the ceiling, on the doors to the private dining room, and near the sushi bar. He says his art acts as “a seal of protection” in all of his restaurants.
Then comes the next element for all its restaurants: pleasure.
What to order
The Nazo 9 is an example of how Back wants to liven up its Japanese menu. This is a bento box, delivered with the lid, which arrives frothy at the table thanks to the dry ice inside. All nine boxes contain omakase-style pieces of raw fish and meat, allowing guests to sample a variety of small-bite dishes for a fair price: $55 per person.
Eventually, the restaurant will offer more traditional omakase options for $125 per person, but these will only be available after the restaurant has been open for a while.
Chef Shinichi Okamoto, who worked for Back in Las Vegas, runs the kitchen at The Colony.
The Akira Back “pizza” is one of the signature dishes, says general manager Shane Martinez. It consists of a tortilla at the bottom covered with umami aioli, then covered with raw tuna and topped with truffle oil and micro greens.
Another popular dish, if you want to pay for it, is a plate of A5 Wagyu served on hot stones. The waiters flambé it with cognac next to the table. “It’s a great show,” Martinez said.
Behind the name, Akira Back
Back describes its menu as “modern Japanese with a Korean accent”. He was born and raised in Seoul but moved to the United States as a teenager. It was a shocking experience that he remembers; he “didn’t even know how to say ‘hello'” when the plane landed in Colorado. He became a professional snowboarder and did so for seven years before deciding he needed a new calling.
The rest is history, or something like that. He got a job with Kenichi in Aspen, then moved to Austin to work at Kenichi there. Then he made a living as a Korean chef preparing Japanese food.
“Who knew I would be a chef? he says, looking back 20 years. “I just needed a job.”
With 20 restaurants open now in 12 cities — and seven more open by the end of 2022 — it looks like Back’s second-chance job is going really well.
Akira Back is at 5765 Grandscape Blvd., The Colony. It opens on Friday, May 6, 2022.