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Feb 18, 2008 02:42 PM

Roka Akor - Scottsdale

Has anyone been to Roka Akor yet, the new trendy sushi/japanese place in Scottsdale? We are thinking of trying it Saturday night and wondering what to expect. If no one has been, I'll report back after our visit.

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  1. Haven't been but know a chef there and be warned it is described as japanese barbeque fine dining, so be prepared for it to be pricey.

    1. We tried it last Saturday night and LOVED it. We had the following:
      kim chee
      beef tataki
      butterfish sashimi (fabulous!)
      grilled madagascar prawn (about 1 foot long!)
      grilled baby back ribs
      chocolate sorbet

      The service was fabulous, the setting is beautiful and the food quality was superb. Yes, it was expensive (about $185 for two of us, including two drinks) but we felt it was worth it.

      1 Reply
      1. re: ejs1492

        I really enjoy butterfish (although have never tried it raw), but you don't see it on the menu at too many places. Good to know they offer it.

      2. I'm so glad to hear that you liked it. I mentioned in another thread that I ate at the one in London and met a couple of the people who were going to be heading up the Scottsdale location. If a company is willing to foot the bill for their employees to live in London for six weeks to learn the ropes, one would have to assume that their commitment to quality and good service is top notch. Did you have any of their signature cocktails? I'm not a huge cocktail person, but the combinations of flavors were so amazing and unusual, so I was tempted to try a couple! I will definitely be checking this one out the next time I come down the hill.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Beaver Street

          I had a lime sho and my wife had a different flavor. Loved it. It has a sake-like flavor, but different, and the hand-cut ice was very cool. There was a blood orange drink that I wanted to try, also. This place will undoubtedly get bashed on this board because it's very "Scottsdale" - - but I felt that the food and service lived up to the hype.

          1. re: ejs1492

            We had a fairly wide assortment of offerings a few days back and, while we enjoyed it, were not thrilled. The sushi rolls, in particular, were not among our favorites of the genre. Everything did seem quite fresh, however.

        2. Did Roka Akor for lunch today. Left me with a weird feeling.

          I'm a Japanese food freak but my expectations had been tempered by the board. While I haven't been amped to try it, I was excited when a coworker set it up.

          There were 8 of us as it was a colleague's birthday. The food was pretty good, some great, but the whole experience left a bad taste in our mouths.

          The service was the main problem. I think some of it has to do with the way they are organized. It's kind of the team setup where one person takes the order & then different members drop things off at random. The server also mentioned that they have 3 different kitchens so things just kind of come when they do.

          That's kind of the overall feeling we got. Totally uncoordinated service. We had about 3 people at our table at different times but it just felt strange. Our server was gone for long periods of time and I think we kind of felt he was the one we were supposed to talk to (re. orders, etc.)??? So while others did come by & refill water, clear plates, etc., we still felt abandoned.

          I'm actually slow to complain but it got to the point where even I did. My coworkers (many of have never worked restaurant) were pretty unhappy. Having grown up in the business, I'm pretty understanding. One coworker said it was the worst service he's had in 10 years.

          The biggest problem was that once our last dish was dropped, our server never came to talk to us or see us for at least 20 - 25 minutes. People refilled drinks & cleared plates but we pretty much just sat there waiting. In fact it turns out our plates were cleared and a fresh plates were set out after our last item had already been served. Eventually when our server was there filling drinks, we asked him if there were any more dishes coming. He went back to check & said no & then offered dessert.

          At that point one of the folks asked about the rice in his lunch special. Turns out 6 of us had ordered rice and we never got any. I also ordered a rice hot pot with mushrooms. I asked about it & was told I never ordered it. I was doubting myself but after that, 3 of the other folks at the table said that I had ordered it. Strange to just be told nope you never ordered it when I guess I had. (Smacks of recent Zinc Bistro comments)

          As it was a birthday, we did decide to order dessert. It took about another 25+ minutes for that to arrive. So that's about 45 + minutes of weird downtime. It wasn't busy either. The place was dead. There was tons of staff behind the sushi/robata bar & at least 4 of 5 wait staff on the floor with about only 4 tables filled (in this huge space).

          While waiting for desert to arrive, 2 of our party eventually had to leave (separately) to make other commitments before it came. It took us a full 2 and a half hours for a work lunch.

          People pretty much gave up and toward the end of dessert wait and I requested to speak with the manager and asked that they cancel the dessert order. The server came by a little later & said it was almost ready & started putting out dishes & silverware. We kind of resigned to wait and eventually it came out. The manager didn't come by until after desert had dropped (maybe 10 minutes after the hostess had spoken with him over the phone)? I thought that was also strange.

          They did do a special desert platter (the presentation was pretty elaborate) I guess either because of the birthday or the wait. It was kind of weird. It was this huge desert boat with the individual dishes on it & various scoops of sorbet on slabs of ice. Not very manageable.

          Another weird thing was that while it had an additional desert & some other flavors of sorbet, it only contained about 2/3 of our dessert order. When I pointed out that the order a colleague with dietary limitations specifically asked for (2 scoops of strawberry) wasn't there, the server pointed to one of the scoops out of 6 & said that was strawberry and left it at that. The other missing order wasn't a big deal because that colleague had already left.

          Not exactly sure why they would take our dessert order rather than say we'll just bring you something special. I'd either say we'll just do you a fancy platter or at least, cover the orders and not just leave a couple people out.

          The manager did end up comping desert and also took another $50 off which was nice.

          Oh and to start the meal off, they brought us an order of tuna tartare, which we hadn't ordered. Once they took it back, they brought it back & said that it was on the house. We thought that was very cool, especially at the beginning of the mail. That was pretty much pushed to back of mind during the course of the meal. I almost forgot about it completely.

          Still, even though most of us enjoyed the food, I don't know that any of us will be heading back. I think the folks are well intentioned. I don't know. Maybe it's to being new and they still haven't gotten it sorted yet? I mentioned as much to the manager & he said it was still unacceptable. With as many folks as they had working & as few customers as they had, it was surprising though.

          Things we really liked: tuna tataki, butterfish tataki, mushroom robata, mushroom sushi, tuna tartare.

          We also had: robata chicken skewers, robata beef skewers, tofu robata, eggplant robata, asparagus robata, red miso, wagyu sushi, vegetable tempura, salmon robata

          Nothing was bad.

          2 Replies
          1. re: ccl1111

            It was probably longer than 25 minutes for dessert. I was the first one to leave, and it was more than 25 minutes from the time I ordered green tea ice cream to the time I left. I even used the restroom before leaving, and according to the rest of the group it was another 10 minutes before Chris tried to cancel dessert.

            I have to say, I'll go back with my husband though. I'll sit at the bar and go in for an early dinner instead. I liked the eggplant a lot, the butterfish tataki was great (server told us they were the main consumers of butterfish it in the UK and had to take it off the menu for 6 months because they couldn't find it), and of all things, I loved the green tea.

            They are going to need to turn it up service-wise if they are going to stick around. I can't imagine having an empty restaurant that large during lunch. . .

            Still worth checking out. I want that green tea ice cream!

            1. re: jcarnie

              Met my mother this evening for an impromptu dinner...we had no idea where were were heading...except that we both wanted something light and were both craving sushi..
              We headed south on Scottsdale Road towards Roka Akor.
              It looked quiet from the outside...when we walked through he door it was quite busy.
              We grabbed a seat at a high top in the bar and checked out the scene and the menu.
              I am fighting the beginning of a summer cold so I chose the Fig Sochu...which according to the menu is supposed to help a cough and relieve tension.. My Mother ordered the cucmber martini.
              We chose a few dishes to eel avocado roll and a pork belly and crysanthemum roll...both tasty,nothing out of the ordinary.
              We ordered a foie gras....w/ a fried nori bread that was out of this world...amazing.
              The manager came over w/ 2 glasses of a japanese sweet wine to compliment the was fabulous.

              We also ordered the miso black cod, the vegetable tempura and the robata grilled eggplant...all were piping hot and amazing.
              We each had a second drink....I opted for the cucumber martini on my was light not sweet and a perfect copmpliment to our meal.
              Our bill came to a little under $100.

              It was a wonderful experience and a great meal...with cocktails.
              It's too bad that Roka Akor doesn't get many mentions on this is really different than any other japanese experience in the valley.
              I loved the Robata Style of cooking.....

          2. Good but a little pricey. 50 dollars for a light lunch and no drinks.

            New restaurant let's give it a chance.

            Tito Arrazola

            2 Replies
            1. re: arrazola88

              I haven't been on CHOW for a while, but thought I might comment that I did take the husband back to Roka Akor for dinner. We sat at the low bar and had a great meal. We had the butterfish again, tuna tartare, tried a few different robata items - scallops this time, and I finally got my green tea ice cream. Oh, I tried the sesame ice cream as well. Both were excellent and served on a block of ice. Very cool.

              Service was still a bit off. We ordered the tuna tartare when we ordered drinks, and the waiter came back 25 minutes later asking if we still wanted it. I also thought the waiter came across as arrogant, sort of rambling through his spiel and not listening to much that we said.

              I love the cucumber martini Ciaogal mentions - it has shochu and sake in it. Could be a dangerous thing to have multiples of. Proceed with caution.

              I've heard they are thinking about brining Germann (from Sea Saw, and most recently Lucs) in to help get the kinks out of the front of the house. I hope it happens!

              1. re: arrazola88

                I'm new to Chowhound but I tried Roka about a month ago - I thought the ambiance was a little over the top, but typical N. Scottsdale. I tried the lunch tasting and it was only $20 - wasn't too bad. Ended with a nice bowl of sashimi. Added a beer and I was out for about $32 with tip so it wasn't too bad. I will probably go sit at the bar for dinner and watch the food before I commit to a $100+ dinner.