Visit The Bay Area Restaurant Where Chefs Take Center Stage—Literally


Round wooden table surrounded by wood chairs with yellow leather upholstery and sheer white curtains at Akikos

Since opening in 1987, Akikos has been a Financial District mainstay attracting Bay Area locals and visitors alike. Now, with the debut of an expansive new flagship in the city’s East Cut neighborhood, more guests can relish chef-owner Ray Lee’s Japanese cuisine—and enjoy its pièce de résistance: a 24-seat chef’s stage.

“Not only do we have the ability to seat more customers at the sushi counter for an unforgettable omakase experience,” he says, “but design-wise, there are so many thoughtful, custom elements.” The dining experience is further enhanced by AvroKO’s design. According to Andrew Lieberman, the firm’s design director, Frank Lloyd Wright, who he calls “a master of using angularity as a cornerstone of design and architecture,” was a source of inspiration for “an oddly shaped, split-level room with a defining apex at one side.”

There is synergy between AvroKO’s concept and Lee’s fare. “The adaptive and responsive nature of an omakase menu is very much like a performance, and at Akikos, chefs take center stage within a uniquely angular sushi bar,” explains Lieberman. “As the evening’s omakase ‘show’ unfolds, each guest can see the care taken in all aspects of preparation, service and product. While most sushi bars are designed in a linear fashion, Akikos features seating on all sides, making guests themselves an important element of the production.”