Maison Akira

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713 East Green Street, Pasadena, CA, USA
www.maisonakira.com - (626) 796-9501

Maison Akira Pasadena Reviews

Eric Eric
408 reviews
Feb 15, 2007
Maison Akira bills itself as "Fine Casual French Dining with a Japanese Flair." Its tagline is quite a mouthful, but it's spot on. It's "fine" in the sense that it is an upscale establishment, but "casual" also in the sense that you don't feel as if anybody is trying too hard to impress everyone else, which is a rare thing in LA. Soothing but not obtrusive classical music plays softly in the dining room (fine), and a recording of French lessons plays in the men's bathroom (casual AND educational!).

The food is hard to classify because most of the dishes are quite inventive and original, but if I was hard pressed I would say that it's mainly French with a hint of Japanese influence. I ordered a Prix Fixe menu, and all of the courses were excellent. The appetizer consisted of shrimp tempura which was atypical in the sense that the tempura was very light and stringy (hard to describe completely, but the texture was novel). The second course consisted of a "three mushroom" soup that was rich in flavor - almost too heavy, but good overall. The main course was "Grilled Miso Marinated Chilean Sea Bass with Provencal Vegetables". This house specialty, the menu proudly proclaims, was served to the Emperor and Empress of Japan during their visit to LA in 1994, and it lived up to its expectations. By this point in the meal I was almost entirely full, but the fish was so good that I still finished every bite. It tasted a little bit different than I expected - it had a stringy, almost scallopy texture that I haven't really tasted in sea bass, but that certainly didn't detract from the taste.

Finally, five pounds heavier, I was ready for desert. Being a chocolate fanatic, I went for the flourless chocolate cake. Although it wasn't bad, this was probably my least favorite course. The chocolate cake was just a bit too lukewarm and soggy and I prefer a chocolate with a firmer texture. Overall though, the meal was extremely good.

Prices here are pretty expensive if you order ala carte, but the prix fixe menus are well worth the price of $50. It's a bit on the high end, but you definitely get what you pay for, and it will be a dining experience to remember!
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