Akar – Restaurant Review

Read this restaurant review of Akar by FitnessFoodieSTL

front entrance to the restaurant Akar, logoed awning, double doors, green plants, street lights
Akar is located in Clayton, MO at 7641 Wydown Blvd

Overview of Akar

Akar is a high-end Malaysian & global fusion restaurant that’s perfect for a date or lovely meal with friends or co-workers.  The name Akar in Malay (official language of Malaysia) means “Roots”, and pays homage to chef-owner Bernie Lee’s home country.   While Asian flavors are at the heart of the restaurant,  expect some surprises too  – like Bread Service, Gnocchi and Lobster Risotto, that pull from Bernie Lee’s global travel experiences.  My husband and I dined here for a special date night without the kiddos & we thoroughly enjoyed both the food & service.

The Space at Akar

With a handful of seats at the bar and 2 small dining rooms, the ambiance is sleek & minimalist, enhanced by dramatic lighting and archways.  In the warmer months, enjoy the outdoor patio, which faces the well-known Man On Horse statue on Wydown & S. Hanley.  Heaters are available and patio seating is first come, first serve. 

mimimalist decor at Akar restaurant with bare walls, dramatic lighting, archways
The decor at Akar is minimalist & sleek with dramatic lighting accents.

Important Details About Akar – Location, Hours & More

Akar is located in Clayton at 7641 Wydown Blvd St. Louis, MO 63105.  It’s open Tuesday – Sunday for dinner with several seating times  – 5pm, 5:30pm, 6pm, 6:45pm, 7:30pm, 8pm and 8:30pm.   Call 314-553-9914 after 3pm to make a reservation in advance.  If you didn’t plan ahead, try calling anyway – now that they have expanded the restaurant space, you might get lucky and snag a last-minute table. 

Akar has a great reputation in the neighborhood, with many locals who dine in or carry out regularly. We noticed a number of other couples dining alongside us plus a party of 8 celebrating a birthday.  Unless your kids are adventurous eaters and do well in more intimate & formal dining environments, I would plan to leave them at home. 

2 appetizers from Akar in restaurant review; a pomelo salad with jumbo shrimp plus garlic noodles with scallions
Appetizers at Akar: Pomelo Salad with Jumbo Shrimp & Garlic Noodles

What To Eat & Drink at Akar

Akar has several creative cocktails on their menu as well as a well-curated wine selection.  I enjoyed a Lychee cocktail and Mitch sipped on a glass of Pinot Gris.  We had a hard time deciding what to eat and with the guidance of our helpful waitress, selected 2 appetizers, 2 entrees and 1 dessert to share.  Please know there are several gluten-free & plant-based options on the menu if you desire.


  • Pomelo Salad with Marinated Jumbo Shrimp – This appetizer special was light, refreshing and highly recommended by our waitress. It came with 3 large shrimp on top of a blend of pomelo (large Asian citrus fruit similar to a grapefruit), fresh green shoots, scallions, white onion & crispy garlic (which added a little heat – yum!).  The dressing, infused with lemongrass & rice vinegar, was tangy and uplifting.  My husband and I loved all the textures and flavors in this dish and devoured each morsel.
  • Garlic Noodles – The smell of this warm bowl of udon noodles was fabulous.  However, the garlic sauce was a bit heavy for my taste and I found this dish lacking.   Perhaps the noodles were too soft or the texture too one-noted, this dished didn’t hit the mark and I would not order again. 


  • Short Rib – The huge portion of meat was topped with scallion & sesame seeds.  The short rib was so tender, it shred with just the touch of your fork.  It was served with a green pea mash (excellent & unique!), roasted carrots and whole roasted garlic.  The waitress said “this is the dish they are known for”.  It tasted more European than Asian in flavor to me, and it was nonetheless delicious.  The portion was so large, we took some home. 
  • Seared Scallops in a Lobster Curry – This off-menu special was highly recommended by the waitress and did not disappoint.  The scallops were perfectly cooked and served on top of a flavorful lobster curry that had the perfect amount of heat.  The scallops came with rice, fresh herbs, and mango salsa.  I loved the flavor & the heat in this dish – mostly pan Asian flavors with a dash of Latin.


  • Marinated Pear with Cinnamon – Unexpected and so delicious, this dessert is served with vanilla ice cream, slivered almonds & a honey drizzle.  The soft pear melted in your mouth and paired perfectly with the textures and flavors of the accompaniments. 
An entree at Akar from restaurant review, Seared Scallops in a Lobster Curry served with Rice, Fresh Herbs & Mango Salsa
Entree : Seared Scallops in a Lobster Curry served with Rice, Fresh Herbs & Mango Salsa


  • Appetizers $7-19
  • Entrées $26-$45
Entree at Akar from restaurant review, large portion of Short Rib with Green Pea Mash, Roasted Carrots & Roasted Whole Garlic
Entree: Short Rib with Green Pea Mash, Roasted Carrots & Roasted Whole Garlic

Fun Facts About Akar

  • Chef-owner Bernie Lee immigrated to St. Louis from Malaysia.  With dreams of getting a higher education, Lee moved to St. Louis to study and then took a job as a busboy to earn extra money.  That became the start of his career as a restauranteur. 
  • Lee also owns Hiro Poke Co, inside The Eatery food hall in Downdown STL, and previously owned Hiro Asian Kitchen & 609. 
  • The cuisine at Akar is Lee’s is a combination of the comfort food of his childhood and the flavors discovered while travelling the globe. 
  • When Akar first opened in June 2019, Akar only had 5 tables in their tiny dining room!  The space expanded in 2023. 
  • Featured in Sauce Magazine’s 2019 Best New Restaurants and listed in Ian Froeb’s STL 100, 2023 Best St Louis Restaurants
  • The menu changes, but not monthly or weekly, but rather whenever the chef would like!
Dessert at Akar, Marinated Pear with Cinnamon, Vanilla Ice Cream, Slivered Almonds & a Honey Drizzle
Dessert: Marinated Pear with Cinnamon served with Vanilla Ice Cream, Slivered Almonds & a Honey Drizzle

Final Thoughts 

Mitch and I had a wonderful time, and we will definitely return.  The flavors were less Asian than I was expecting (coming from a lover of Asian food), and both the food and service were excellent.  Next time, I want to try the Lobster Wonton, a reinvention of the Crab Rangoon, and the Pad Kee Mao, an upscale version of drunken noodles.

Click Here to Visit Akar Online

Did you enjoy reading this restaurant review of Akar? Read more of FitnessFoodieSTL’s restaurant reviews here.

Have you eaten at Akar? What are your favorites? Comment below!

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