I tried Essex’s top rated Japanese restaurant and everything was perfect

Across Essex we have some amazing restaurants. You can get all kinds of cuisines for all budgets with some really good food.

You can get Italian, American, Thai, Chinese, Turkish, British and just about everything else. Another popular cuisine is Japanese.

Essex has quite a few Japanese restaurants, with the top rated one being in Witham. AKA, on Witham High Street serves a range of Asian food but it is very highly commended for its Japanese selection.

Read more: I tried Southend’s Bobby Jo’s diner

Not only is it rated the best Japanese restaurant across Essex, according to TripAdvisor, but AKA is also listed as the best overall restaurant in Witham. We wanted to see just how good it was so Life Writer Hope Woolston went along for dinner:

First impressions

The bar inside AKA
The bar inside AKA

The first thing that impressed me about AKA was how easy it was to book. There’s no need to phone up, you can use the very simple online booking system on the website.

I was even more impressed with this on the day when I wanted to push my reservation back an hour – it really couldn’t have been easier. After selecting your time you get a text confirmation and you are all good to go.

Walking into the restaurant I couldn’t believe how big it was. There are several different areas, all decorated beautifully.

After a warm welcome we were shown to our table and given some menus. Having only eaten Japanese food a few times we were unsure what to go for.

This wasn’t a problem as Patrick, the assistant manager, was on hand to help us out. He explained how we could have a starter and a main like in most restaurants or we could go for a ‘tapas style’ meal.

The food

Chilli and Pepper Squid and the Teriyaki Tebasaki
Chilli and Pepper Squid and the Teriyaki Tebasaki

The menu had a huge selection of ‘small plates’ so we decided to order a couple of these to share. We started off with the Chilli and Pepper Squid and the Teriyaki Tebasaki.

When the dishes arrived they looked amazing. We were both given a plate so we could share between us – I couldn’t help but notice the gorgeous cherry blossom detail on the plate which like the rest of the restaurant was beautiful.

The squid really was something else. It was packed full of flavour and simply delicious – I could have eaten a whole plate full. The Teriyaki Tebasaki was also very nice with the chicken wings really coated in Teriyaki sauce.

After being really impressed with the first two ‘small plates’ we decided to stick with them and order a few more like Patrick recommended. With so much choice it was hard to pick what to have next.

The food was incredible
The food was incredible

We ended up choosing the Wasabi Prawns and the Chicken Satay but couldn’t pick what else. On Patrick’s recommendation, we went for the Teriyaki Tofu and the Smoked Chicken.

Once again all these dishes arrived looking fantastic and the taste matched up. The prawns were served with a Wasabi mayo which I thought was great as you could pick how much of a punch you wanted – delicious.

The Chicken Satay was everything I hoped it would be, with chicken skewers absolutely smothered in a peanut sauce. The tofu was probably our least favourite as it is still something we are getting used to but the flavour was still really nice.

We were massively impressed with the Smoked Chicken. It came in a massive portion with plenty to share and was insanely good – we were so glad that this was recommended as it didn’t jump out to us on the menu.

The extras

The restaurant is beautiful
The restaurant is beautiful

To accompany our food we tried a selection of drinks. I tried a few cocktails with the Pina Colada being the best.

My other half was drinking beer. After picking one he enjoyed, once again Patrick gave his recommendation for a rare beer that is hard to get a hold of – it was a success and very much enjoyed.

As well as the food at AKA being incredible, the customer service was also like no other. The staff were all very friendly, informative and clearly there to make sure their customers have the best possible time.

We had a great chat with Patrick who told us how he likes to get to know his customers. He was genuinely so friendly and clearly had a huge passion for what he does.

There is no doubt that we will return to AKA. I’m not surprised that it is rated so well as we had a fantastic evening.

Things to know:

  • We went on a Saturday evening and it was full so it’s a good idea to book
  • You can book online or by phoning 01376 505058
  • You can find AKA at 47 – 49 Newland Street, Witham
  • The closest car park is Newlands Drive which is open 24 hours and only 50p after 7pm
  • There are Vegetarian and vegan items on the menu

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