Miyabi 9 vs Akibono 515

The first resturant Miyabi 9 had a delightful selection of food. The food ordered from left to right. Miso soup, Salad, Agedashi Tofu (tofu covered in a light breading), and Katsu Curry (A pork cutlet served with curry and rice)

Nathan Metzger, Staff Writer

One thing that has always interested me is Japanese cuisine. It has a way of utilizing just about anything they can get their hands-on and it is interesting to see how the cuisine of one of the largest island countries changes when it is brought to a country that has much more access to more diverse foods. I have heard many good things about two restaurants downtown that would give as close to an authentic experience to eating in Japan, Akebono 515 and Miyabi 9.

It was time to decide which restaurant was the better Japanese restaurant and delivered a more authentic experience.

The first stop was Miyabi 9 on East Grand Avenue, my first impressions were very positive, the atmosphere is very fitting, from an elegant kimono hung on the wall along with a Noh mask (a form of traditional Japanese play) and other knickknacks from Japan. I was expecting to eat there for at least an hour and a half, but surprisingly did not. They gave me plenty of time to look over the menu and make my decisions. Once I had ordered, they were surprisingly fast and the meal felt very fluid to eat through, by the time I had gotten my soup and salad finished, they had just gotten out my tofu, and the same happened for my main course.

The food was remarkable, the miso soup, a staple of Japanese cuisine was spot on from what I had in Japan which was an extremely promising start. Soon followed by that was my Agedashi Tofu, tofu covered in a light batter and resting in a fish stock, and the flavors from the stock and tofu complemented each other perfectly. Then there was the main course, Katsu Curry, a pork cutlet over rice served with a spicy curry. All of the ingredients worked well by themselves and combined, the curry was just spicy enough to make it not overwhelming with the vegetables that would mellow it out along with the rice. To top it off, I tried a bit of a modern twist on a dessert called mochi, a little, bite-sized rice cake with a filling, this one had a sweet strawberry ice cream filling. One thing that can often happen with mochi is having an outer layer that becomes too thick and chewy, but here it was just the right thickness that added some texture to the sweet inner ice cream.

The second place I went to was Akiebono 515 on 10th street, I have gone here before and have had a good experience in the past, but something seemed off. The first thing I will say is that it does not feel near as authentic as Miyabi 9. In comparison the service was much slower, though it may have just been a busy night given it was pretty crowded.

Akibono was a whole other beast in comparison to Miyabi. When I went, the first thing I got was two shrimp skewers, one was miso flavored and the other teriyaki, the one upsetting part to me is that while you could taste a bit of a difference, I was never able to definitively tell between the two. Then was the main course, I got the Sumo Ramen, a ramen bowl with pork belly, braised pork, Asian broccoli, a fish cake, and a poached egg. It was pretty good, but I wish they would have cooked the pork belly more because it was almost all just squishy fat with a somewhat charred outside, which is not how you would normally cook it. Outside of the pork belly, the rest of the ramen was good. The only other complaint about it that, while I understand that it is called the sumo bowl, my one complaint is that it was too large, the other two bowls of ramen that they offer are the same size and there is no way I could see a regular person finishing one of those bowls of ramen in one sitting, let alone two. While I appreciate large portion sizes, I would prefer there to be just the right amount to enjoy it all fresh at the restaurant rather than having to worry about it being microwaved at home.

Overall, I would much rather revisit Miyabi because they had extremely professional service in comparison to Akibono. If I were looking for a more modern experience, Akibono would be the place. But in comparison Miyabi has a much better traditional experience. I would gladly visit Miyabi any day again and would love to become a regular, from the more authentic feel of the environment and food, I instantly fell in love with this restaurant.