It’s hard to imagine a time when words like “seasonal,” "local," and “sustainable” weren’t necessary bylines on every restaurant menu. In today’s market, concepts like these are all but obligatory - but just under ten years ago, when Akasha Richmond opened her namesake restaurant in the historic Hull Building in Culver City, things looked a little different. Healthy eating at the time often conjured images of alfalfa sprouts and mashed yeast, and thoughtful details like biodegradable takeout containers were enough to warrant commentary from the likes of S. Irene Virbila. But Richmond forged on, developing an organic, farm-to-table menu that remains both surprising and innovative, sourcing biodynamic wines and craft cocktails, and offering a robust set of options for vegans and vegetarians… any of that sound familiar?
Indeed, Akasha Richmond was doing all those things before they were cool; even at the risk of being labeled “crunchy-granola.” And when you dig a little deeper into Richmond’s past, it's apparent that such a title wouldn’t be so far off the mark: while she’s a self-taught cook who learned her craft at home under the guidance of family, Richmond’s love affair with cooking truly began while living at an ashram and working for Yogi Bhajan at The Golden Temple, a famed vegetarian cafe that once catered to Hollywood’s elite. So it’s no wonder that a healthy dose of crunchy-granola makes its way into her cuisine, though when set amongst a well-rounded menu with influences reaching as far as India and the Middle East (a result of her extensive world travels as a personal chef to the stars, no doubt), it’s hardly noticeable. Especially when that granola is really, really good.
Even today, when the restaurant landscape is saturated with responsibly-sourced, healthful options, the cuisine at Akasha remains relevant. There’s no question that a nourishing, healthful meal is what our bodies need - and by crafting thoughtful, elevated cuisine using those healthful ingredients, Richmond is able to translate that need into a want. At dinner, farmers market vegetables are paired with fragrant herbs and luxurious cheeses, pasture-raised meats are enhanced with exotic spices, and onion rings are made impossibly crispy using only gluten-free and vegan ingredients. At brunch, farm eggs are served alongside grass-fed steak, house-made granola is submerged in fresh almond milk, and buttermilk pancakes are made hearty with whole wheat flour. The result is a menu packed with all the favorites you’d hope to find, made with ingredients you can feel good about.
Even the cocktail list at Akasha is infused with choice produce - our Prosecco Fizz came topped with a dollop of vibrant fresh sorbet, and the Seasonal Sangria is garnished with chopped peaches and plump raspberries. If your cocktail doesn’t meet your daily fruit quota, the Fresh Fruit Salad will fill the gap - apples, berries, and mangoes are married with just a touch of local honey, and optional greek yogurt is available for an added burst of protein.
If vegetables for breakfast are your jam, then look no further than Akasha’s Shakshouka - two eggs are baked to jammy-perfection in a sea of saffron tomato sauce and tender braised greens, accented with a hint of spice and dotted with salty, tangy feta cheese. On the side, two slices of lightly charred ciabatta offer a vehicle for leftover sauce - and are especially useful for scraping up those stuck-on bits around the edges (in our opinion, the very best part).
Perhaps the most perfect example of sinful-meets-healthful can be found in the Buckwheat Waffle. Here, a crispy-on-the-outside, warm-and-fluffy-on-the-inside waffle is made wholesome with buckwheat, offering a texture that feels both substantial and comforting. On top, a lightly salty cinnamon butter gently melts beneath warm caramelized bananas and luscious salted caramel sauce, filling the waffle’s nooks and crannies with a melt-in-your-mouth ambrosia. Maybe we’re suckers for that moment when sweet meets salty, but to us, it doesn’t get much better than this.
Whether it was all that time spent practicing with Yogi Bhajan or just some natural sixth sense, Akasha Richmond somehow knew what was next for Los Angeles’ food scene long before we did. By achieving decadent flavors with natural, responsibly-sourced ingredients, Akasha meets us at the intersection of what we want and what we need.
9543 Culver Boulevard,
Culver City CA 90232