A Taste of Roka Akor

Roka shochu lounge

You will often find Roka Akor’s name on best-sushi lists, both near and far–and rightfully so. However, the chic, high-end Scottsdale dining spot actually specializes in robata Japanese cuisine (kind of like barbecue in which the foods are slow-grilled over fire). With that in mind, we were excited to try some of Roka Akor’s most mouthwatering robata eats (as well as a few sushi favorites, of course).

To start, the shishito peppers are a great way to wake up those taste buds. Slathered in sweet ponzo and topped with dancing bonito flakes, it is easy to finish the entire bowl of charred peppers in mere minutes. Just cross your fingers that you don’t get the occasional super-spicy pepper that graces every heap of shisitos. The Niman Ranch pork belly, sided with marinated golden beets, is super-tender, slightly sweet and simply melts in your mouth. You basically don’t need to chew. Though we’re on a mission to try some of the robata goods, a trip of Roka Akor isn’t complete without a beautiful row of butterfish tataki, served with white asparagus and yuzu–so simple yet so flavorful. Again, melt-in-your-mouth good.

Because everyone wants to meet their daily veggie intake, get the sweet corn with butter and soy and the crispy Brussels sprouts as side items. The corn could practically be a dessert, and the once-feared Brussels sprouts are taken to delicious new heights with the addition of bonito flakes and Japanese mustard.

Now onto the more hearty, well, heart of the menu. The yuzu-miso-marinated black cod is among our favorite dishes in the Valley. It is like butter–tender, creamy. This is the kind of dish you will want to linger over for a while, savoring every sweet bite for a few moments. To really fill that belly, try the Prime Flight, a trio of Roka Akor’s tastiest steaks. Our flight comprised prime beef filet with chili-ginger sauce; rib eye with wafu dressing; and New York strip loin with truffle aioli. Though you can’t go wrong with any of these offerings, the New York with that decadent truffle aioli was the table favorite.

At Roka Akor, no meal is complete without the chocolate toffee cake with peanut butter ice cream. Hot and cold, crunchy and creamy, chocolate and peanut butter. This cake basically has everything. So, so good.

Though the price tags are Roka Akor might be a little steep (the cod is $31, while the strip will run you $48), the stunning space and top-quality ingredients make dining here more than just dinner, but a true experience. Or, there is always daily happy hour from 4:30 to 7 p.m. that dishes up wallet-friendly food and drink specials. rokaakor.com.

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