Roka Akor in San Francisco
Unfortunately, it's been a while since I was there last time and I didn't take notes about the individual non-sushi items. However, my general impression was that they were good, but a little more hit or miss than the sushi as you would expect when a new restaurant creates a variety of hot-or-cold appetizers and entrees as opposed to what a skilled sushi chef can produce when working with top-notch ingredients. Seems like the menu has changed a bit since I was there last time, including an expansion of the selection of sushi.
In general, there are some very interesting similarities between the concepts of Roka Akor and Ozumo.
Thanks, I was asked about it today. While Roka Akor's opening was much hyped in other quarters, I didn't recall reading anything about it here. I searched and yours is the only mention.
Yes, the wide range of the menu covering a variety of cooking styles and both surf and turf invites comparisons to Ozumo.
Agreed that this is similar to Ozumo. I liked the execution better at Roka Akor.
I went for a celebratory birthday lunch. We shared the charred heirloom salad, Mendocino uni, beef and kimchi dumplings, and flat iron steak with egg yolk. The highlights were the uni and the steak, which was a perfect medium rare, served with a dipping sauce of egg yolk and a few luscious mushrooms. Uni was served with chicharrones as a cracker-type accompaniment, so first you squirted the charred lime (tho...not sure how char improves lime?) onto the uni, then smeared uni onto a broken piece of chicharrones. Dumpling skins were too thick for me. Charred tomato salad was good, if basic.
Worth mentioning: the former bar manager of Alembic is now managing the SF outpost of Roka Akor, so the drinks are several steps above par. I had a take-off of the French 75 with a bit of added lychee; it was well balanced and acted as an excellent aperitif. Friend had a Corpse Reviver; that was even better.
I didn't foot the bill for lunch, which may have affected my opinion. But, considering the situation as it was, a fancy atypical lunch, I liked it.
Speaking of the bar, I haven't been back to the bar/lounge area since the early days since I found it too dark and cavelike to be inviting. But looking at the Chronicle photos
it seems much better lit and inviting than I remembered it. Does anyone know if they changed the lighting or is it just a matter of flattering camera work?
Sadly, Daniel Hyatt, the longtime Alembic bar manager, left Roka Akor two weeks ago. Hyatt's bar menu has been replaced by one that is almost identical to the chain's Chicago location. I believe some of Hyatt's staff from the Alembic that made the move with him have left as well.
Hyatt was quoted as saying, "They wanted more lounge-y music, and drinks that were a little more fruit-driven and accessible. It's entirely possible that I overshot, but the crowd wasn't as adventurous. I had people asking me for Cosmopolitans, which hadn't happened to me on Haight in years."