Ayaka calls itself an "urban Japanese restaurant," and its innovative design and high-impact decor help it live up to that image. Its hip, snug storefront a few doors down from Miki Campus would fit in Toronto as well as it does on South University. Designed by the award-winning local firm PLY Architecture, the space has a sophisticated black and gray color scheme splashed with sleek orange accents, including ceiling art whose loose, scalloped design suggests both raw fish and the "colorful flower" for which the restaurant is named.
Ayaka is owner Sang Park's first restaurant, but he's no stranger to the business. He spent ten years as a chef at his brother-in-law's restaurant, Saica, on Plymouth Road.
Park, thirty-seven, is originally from Korea and moved to the States in 1991. That's why there's bibimbop on the menu as well as sushi, sashimi, chirashi, and miso soup. There are all the usual suspects, and also some delicious-sounding innovations, including sweet potato and shiitake mushroom tempura.
Ayaka, 1205 South University. 214-1212. Mon.-Fri. 10 a.m.-11 p.m., Sat. noon-10 p.m. Closed Sun.