In summer 2017, Roka Akor will bring its award-winning Japanese robatayaki cuisine to a new outpost in Houston, TX. Managed by the innovative restaurant group JNK Concepts, Roka Akor has four thriving restaurant locations across the U.S. (Scottsdale, San Francisco, Chicago, and Skokie, Illinois), and the opening will be the restaurant brand’s first location in Texas.
“We are thrilled to grow the Roka Akor brand and open in Houston, bringing us to five dynamic locations across the country by this summer,” says Mo Habul, director of operations at JNK Concepts. “We plan to bring an unprecedented dining experience and look forward to sharing our high-quality and experiential Japanese cuisine with the community.”
Opening on the ground floor of the 40-story luxury high-rise 2929 Weslayan, Roka Akor will feature an extensive menu of inventive Japanese dishes centered on its all-important robata grill. The robata technique originates from the fishermen off the northern coastal waters of Japan who made a practice of cooking their fresh fish on the shoreline and sharing the bounty with each other.
The restaurant’s name is derived from two words: RO and KA. The meaning of the first word is hearth, a gathering place where people socialize and take in the ambience; the latter stands for a burning fire and projecting energy.
The 6,500-square foot space will offer multiple seating options including the sushi bar, intimate booths, a meandering sleek bar, three private dining rooms that can accommodate 20 to 40 people, and dining around a lively robata grill which provides the heart of the visual experience for guests. Inside seating accommodates up to 210 guests with an additional 100 seats available on the outdoor patio.
Longtime veterans of the brand, Corporate Chef Ce Bian and Sushi Chef Mike Lim, will lead Roka Akor’s opening team in Houston, incorporating local ingredients whenever possible into signature dishes, including cold appetizers, hot appetizers, modern style nigiri, and premium sushi, as well as selections from the robata grill. Prime-cut steaks pair with tableside shaved truffles, “wafu” dressing (savory soy vinaigrette), or signature black truffle-infused aioli among other house made sauces; and all the restaurant’s fish come with Himalayan rock salt—a delicate seasoning that does not interfere with the natural flavor of the fish. The more adventurous guests can opt for the Omakase—translated as “to entrust the chef”—a personalized tasting menu prepared with premium in-house ingredients.
Roka Bar’s extensive cocktail program will also change seasonally and includes an impressive list of shochu, a popular Japanese distilled spirit, house-made shochu infusions with flavors like blood orange, raspberry, mango and chili, as well as a wide selection of wine and sake.
Similar to its sister counterparts, the Houston location will feature contemporary décor and sleek lighting with natural, warm details like wood-paneled walls, creating a sophisticated-yet-approachable mood in the restaurant’s interior. Guests are encouraged to talk with the chefs about the food and extensive cocktail and sake program, creating an interactive and engaging dining experience.
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