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With the recent arrival of a Japanese Restaurant called , Richmond has yet another good source of sushi outside the walls of the ubiquitous Ukrop's. It's a small, comfortable place with around 30 seats and an attractive, coarsely carved wooden bar behind which two sushi chefs busily ply their trade.

Akida's menu seems designed to entice you into ordering a "sushi combo," ranging from around $6 to $22, and undoubtedly if you find a combo that appeals, you'll realize a savings. But half the fun of eating sushi is designing the meal, so I say forget about the combos, settle in with your a la carte menu and exercise a little free will. Akida offers 10 a la carte nigiri sushi items ($1.75 to $3 each) and 21 varieties of rolls ranging from $1.50 for the modest cucumber roll to $7.95 for the more complex Eel Dragon or Rainbow Roll.

All the seafood we sampled was sparklingly fresh, as it must be for sushi, and appeared to be lovingly cared for and well presented. In the sushi roll department, we tried the spider roll ($4.50) which is a softshell crab roll. Akida's spider roll seemed smaller with less crab than those I've had elsewhere, but it was also a good bit less expensive. For those who fancy vegetarian sushi but are tired of cucumber and avocado rolls, Akida offers a seaweed salad roll ($2).

But Akida isn't just a sushi bar, it has a full range of appetizers and entrees including donburi, which is a traditional dish consisting of meat, vegetables and egg over rice; udon and ramen, which are noodle soups; and basic teriyaki dishes.

Every time another restaurant that broadens the cultural horizons of this city opens its doors, we have cause to celebrate. As we incessantly defend our city against unwarranted accusations of provincialism, Akida adds one more arrow to our quiver.



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