If not for Yelp, I would never have found this little gem of a Japanese place in Carmel. But then again, who would’ve thought that in the middle of touristy Carmel, one would find something so authentic and so wonderful like Akaoni.
The restaurant is very small, a few tables and a sushi bar, probably seats about 25 people tops. The decor is really cute and not overladen with too much eye-popping knick-knacks.
My only gripe was that the sushi chef refused to serve us omakase stating that he doesn’t do that with first time guests. I was perplexed because Carmel certainly gets its share of tourists and visitors and to not offer omakase seemed a little odd when there are so many would be first-timers. Nevertheless, we asked what fish he had and made a meal of it ourselves.
The fish selection was limited but he did have very fresh seafood including scallops, uni, snapper, albacore and tuna. Everything was delicately prepared and each mouthful was a delightful morsel.
But what I was most highly impressed with was their home made tofu and the little offerings on their white board. The home made tofu was so silky smooth with a house made soy sauce dressing and each spoonful just melted in my mouth. Another item I loved was the braised kelp and tofu which goes very well with sake or beer. A salad of mirugai and julienned cucumber and zucchini was so simple yet so sublime. Unfortunately, after those incredible items, tempura just seemed to pale in comparison.
Service is very Japanese — attentive and polite. This is a rare gem which I am determined to return to whenever I re-visit Carmel again.
Mission & 6th Ave
Carmel By The Sea, CA 93921
I have a suspicion that if you asked him if he ever wanted to see another tourist he would probably say no. And it’s such a tiny place – and the restaurant is to good – that he could probably survive off the locals and known visitors (it’s not a no tourist rule – it’s a no first-timer rule) and do just fine. He’s an unusual event even for Carmel but he does have mindblowing sushi… And I got taken there once by someone he knew and enjoyed – that was quite an event.
have you gone back to try again? i wonder if he still has this rule? i want to go because it sounds like the kind of place i would love, but it’s a 3 hour drive and it would be pretty disappointing not to be able to order the omakase.
Mad Hungry Woman says
unfortunately, no. I hope it’s still there!
well, i guess i’ll try to go and if it’s not, i’ll let you know!
when i asked for the omakase, the waitress said that it’s only available if you have a reservation. they also told me that if i wanted to sit at one of the tables, i would have to finish within an hour. she gave me a funny look when i asked about the sushi bar and emphasized that i would only be able to eat sushi there.
Mad Hungry Woman says
I’m sorry you had a less than stellar experience.