Food & drink
Meet the Chef: Sandro Deguara dishes the goods on Aki’s Japanese izakaya concept
In the next instalment of our series, the executive chef reveals what has made Valletta’s Japanese-inspired restaurant Aki such a hit with diners since February 2020.

Sarah Micallef

The menu at Japanese-inspired restaurant and lounge bar Aki focuses on a sharing concept within a stylish Valletta location.

Stemming from the concept of izakaya, a type of informal Japanese bar that serves alcoholic drinks and snacks, the contemporary Aki has received rave reviews since opening its doors.

AKI

“So far, feedback and reception have been very positive, and we are really grateful for all the support and appreciation we constantly receive from all of our esteemed patrons,” maintains the man behind the menu, executive chef Sandro Deguara.

The menu at Aki is a varied one, featuring inspiration derived from Asian and Peruvian cuisines among others, Sandro reveals, being hard pressed to name favourites. “The wide variety on our menu makes it difficult to pick just one,” he smiles, adding, “volcano sushi, pork and soft-shell crab bao buns and robata grill place themselves on top.”

AKI 

Turning his attention to the local restaurant scene, the chef describes 2020 as “by far the most challenging and unprecedented year to date.” Notwithstanding this, he says that the local community has been very supportive and continues to be one of the industry’s main pillars.  

“The pandemic has brought with it a number of challenges. One of the most difficult ones we are facing is being able to maintain a top-level product whilst ensuring a good balance with protocols and regulations, so as to safeguard the well-being of our employees and patrons alike,” Sandro explains.

AKI

Photo by Brian Grech 

Moving forward, the executive chef reveals that the focus for Aki will remain on delivering the best and most innovative concepts from around the globe – both in terms of cuisine and beverages.

“We strongly believe that introducing new trends and concepts will not only keep the industry appealing for the local community but also leverages Malta’s touristic portfolio,” he says.


Sarah Micallef
Written by
Sarah Micallef
A keen traveller with an interest in most things, Sarah loves her island home as much as she loves getting away from it, and enjoys discovering and re-discovering the gems, hidden corners and unique stories of her native Malta and Gozo.

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