Chef-Owner Ray Lee is proud to introduce Akikos at Avery Lane, the new flagship destination located in the outdoor pocket park at The Avery by Related California in Downtown San Francisco’s East Cut neighborhood. Designed by AvroKO’s San Francisco studio, the 2,700 sq. ft. space marks a notable expansion for the restaurant, which has evolved significantly since its original opening in 1987. For over 30 years, Akikos has served the Bay Area community, building a dedicated following of locals, celebrities, and visitors alike for its innovative sushi offerings. When Ray took over the restaurant from his parents in 2009, the self-taught chef was the first to introduce a traditional omakase experience to San Francisco, complete with fresh fish from Tokyo.
“Since its inception, Akikos has been about evolution. We are honored to continue to build upon the experience for our loyal guests and first-time diners alike with the opening of Akikos at Avery Lane,” says Ray in a statement. “While this space is new, we hope that it will feel like an extension of our own home—a comfortable, nostalgic place where we can connect with guests across the sushi counter and continue to experiment with new ingredients and preparations. It is truly humbling to have the opportunity to bring this vision to life in such a spectacular setting.”
AvroKO worked in close collaboration with Ray to design the space, which draws inspiration from the 1970 Osaka Exhibition—an architectural movement exploring futurism, primary colors, and adaptive design—as well as the spirit of Architect, Frank Lloyd Wright, to create an East-meets-West aesthetic with bespoke details. Warm shiplap and plank wood paneling is featured throughout the space, which highlights angular geometry and red, yellow, and blue accents throughout, while expressive, gestural artwork inspired by the Japanese Gutai art movement provide an unscripted balance to the architectural rigor. Upon entry, guests are greeted with a welcome glass of Champagne at the entry bar, and are invited to order additional beverages, and enjoy a selection of Motown, hip hop and classic rock, played from Ray’s personal playlist.
The dining room is centered around a 24-seat Chef’s Stage, where guests will have a 360-degree view of Ray, Head Sushi Chef Shinsuke Hayashi, and the team of chefs as they showcase their craft. As the chefs open drawers within their stations, a pop of color will be exposed, creating an ongoing orchestra of primary colors. The 46-seat restaurant, complete with a curtained semi-private dining room, is unique in that 80% of the kitchen is exposed, allowing guests to be fully immersed in the fine art of their meals. Guests will have an uninhibited look into the minute details that go into the composition of each dish, coupled with views of fresh fish being sliced at the pass and two dry agers that offer Ray the opportunity to further experiment with flavor and texture. The restaurant is decorated with a curated selection of ceramics from Ray’s personal collection, serving as a visual dedication to his craft while infusing comfort and a touch of residential hospitality.
“When designing the Chef’s Stage, we looked to eccentric, historical Japanese sources, theatrical stage sets and lighting to inspire drama,” comments Andrew Lieberman, Design Director at AvroKO. “The Black Box Theater-inspired sushi bar sets the tone for an energetic, one-of-a-kind dining experience. This interactive approach to dining, where the guest watches a performance unfold, sets a new standard for omakase restaurants. Further, the constantly changing color palette, depending on where you sit, creates a metaphor for the adaptive and unscripted nature of the evening’s menu.”
Akikos’ menu is centered around its omakase experience, with an emphasis on sustainably sourced, single line caught fish sourced from Tokyo’s acclaimed Toyosu Fish Market and whimsical approaches to Japanese cuisine reimagined with local, seasonal ingredients. The dinner tasting menu, offered at $250 per guest, begins with a selection of otsumami or appetizers, such as dry aged and smoked Sashimi; Chawanmushi, a traditional steamed egg custard with snow crab, black truffle and roasted scallion oil; Wagyu dumpling of Hokkaido beef wrapped in puff pastry with aged parmesan; and Shokupan, grilled milk bread topped with toro and Kaluga caviar. The tasting continues with a generous selection of nigiri, ranging from Zuke, a 10-day dry-aged, soy-cured bluefin tuna to Kamasu, young barracuda to Akamutsu, deep sea perch. The experience concludes with a house-made seasonal ice cream for dessert. An abbreviated version of the omakase menu will be available for lunch, offered at $150 per guest. Those looking to expand their dining experience can order additional sushi à la carte from the Nama menu.
The Avery Lane location marks the debut of Akikos’ spirits offerings, expanding upon its existing selection of Japanese beers and reserve sake with an emphasis on Japanese whisky, particularly higher-end age statements. Overseen by Beverage Director Quade Marshall—formerly of Rick House, Pagan Idol and Alexander’s Steakhouse—the cocktail program is centered around classic libations crafted with Japanese spirits and house-made Japanese ingredients. Sample beverages include the Cocomelon Manhattan, Suntory Toki whisky, sweet vermouth, Bittercube “Cherry Bark and Vanilla” bitters; Tenjin Collective, shiso-infused Suntory Roku Gin, house-made plum syrup, Meyer lemon juice, egg white; and Foreign Delegate, Cognac, Toki whisky, house-made white sesame orgeat, Bittercube “Jamaican #1” bitters, activated charcoal sesame oil. The beer and sake list centers around artisanal, grower-producer offerings. Guests looking for a more comprehensive experience can try the Beverage Tasting, a selection of cocktails, Champagne, wine and limited allocation reserve sake.
Akikos is located at Avery Lane at 430 Folsom Street, at the base of The Avery, Related California’s luxury residential high-rise. The Avery’s residents will have access to special experiences and programming from Akikos, such as private tastings and secret menu offerings. The opening of Akikos adds to the growing offering of retail and restaurants along the Folsom Street residential corridor in Downtown San Francisco.
The restaurant is open Tuesday through Saturday, with lunch served weekdays from 11:30am to 1:30pm and dinner seatings offered from 5:30pm to 8:30pm.