Tag Archives: Roka Akor

SumoMaya's pomegranate and dried fruit guacamole. Photo by Shavon Thompson

Sneak peek at Arizona Restaurant Week, Fall 2014

Fall is the time of harvest, and what a better way to kick off a celebration of food than with the fall Arizona Restaurant Week? From Sept. 19 to 28, more than 100 restaurants offer prix-fixe menu options for a discounted prices (between $33 to $44 for three courses) is by far one of the savviest ways to try some of the restaurants out there where the tabs have seemed intimidating. (There are also many participating restaurants in Tucson offering deals between $20 to $40.) Visit Arizona Restaurant Week’s website for more information.

Below, we give a sneak peek at three Scottsdale locations that should be considered in your restaurant week itinerary. (Emphasis on itinerary! Reservations for a lot of these places fill up fast!)

Green Magic mojito from SumoMaya. Photo by Shavon Thompson

Green Magic mojito from SumoMaya. Photo by Shavon Thompson

1. SumoMaya (6560 N. Scottsdale Rd., Scottsdale)
SumoMaya, one of the Valley’s newest restaurants, is already making a name for itself among Mexican-Asian fusion lovers (and those who didn’t know how much they loved it) and even the Ferarri Happy Hour club is known to stop in for a few.

First of all, SumoMaya is gorgeous from the inside out. Walking into SumoMaya, you’re greeted a window full of mixed-matched lanterns. The restaurant, featuring an open-sapce bar, a 24-foot tree, modern dining tables, booths, brightly colored mixed-matched chairs and a feng shui appeal of shurb-covered walls, exposed metal ducts and wooden high beams, the place is as zen as it is chic.

What to drink: Green Magic mojito (it’s a minty classic mixed with coconut rum and horchata ice cream). These are dangerously delicious. We still can’t believe they’re alcoholic. If you want something stronger (much stronger), try the Sumorita (a blended margarita that’ll knock your socks off with one sip).

The guacamole: SumoMaya couldn’t just let guacamole be, and we’re thankful for that. There are two noteworthy twists to try: one that contains thick cuts of bacon for a more savory experienec and a pomegranate and dried cherry guacamole that we may be a spoonful more partial to. We prefer the latter slathered all over the tahin-dusted tostada chips served with the avocado dip for the best of both salty and sweet worlds.

Yellow fin hamachi at SumoMaya. Photo by Shavon Thompson

Yellow fin hamachi at SumoMaya. Photo by Shavon Thompson

The hamachi: This is one of SumoMaya’s most popular dishes. The buttery yellow tuna is light and served over an apple puree with truffle oil drizzled over the raw fish. This is delicious, even if you’re not big on ceviches.

The bacon-wrapped dates: Chorizo and cheese-stuffed dates wrapped in bacon and dipped in a peanut sauce is by far the standout app to try at SumoMaya. The sentiment seems to be among the Scottsdale Living taste testers, “the best date” of our lives. Seriously, we could have made a meal of those alone.

The spicy shrimp tempura: This crunchy salad topped with spicy shrimp tempura was a little heavy on the cream-based sauce that had a tinge of mayo taste. However, the flavors, despite being a bit overshared, were delicious.

 

SumoMaya masterfully blends multiple cuisines into dishes with a balance that doesn’t always have to scream “fusion.”

2. Paul Martin’s American Grill (6186 N. Scottsdale Rd., Scottsdale)
Another new restaurant in Scottsdale, Paul Martin’s American Grill has built a buzz around its organically sourced meats, dairy and produce. It has a dark wood feel of a smoky bar that is appropriately leaking the croons of Frank Sinatra over the light clanks of heavy silverware on plates and dinner conversations. Just like the ambiance, the entrees tend to be pretty hearty. We suggest starting dinner off with something easy to share while waiting for the main course. Our favorite is a bit of a classic, the Butcher’s Block (a charcuterie board served with light, crusty bread).

Short ribs and mashed potatoes at Paul Martin's American Grill. Photo by Shavon Rose

Short ribs and mashed potatoes at Paul Martin’s American Grill. Photo by Shavon Rose

What to drink: Paul Martin’s has a fair cocktail menu, though its wine selection seems to be a bit more of the restaurant’s focus, probably due to its California roots.

The entrees: Out of the chicken, beef and salmon options — our favorite dish is the moist short ribs with a side of creamy, slightly lumpy garlic mashed potatoes. We would go back for the mashed potatoes with a side of potatoes, they are so good. The ribs are made with “never ever beef,” which means the cow is never exposed to toxins or hormones, and is prepared in a four-day process by chefs at Paul Martin’s. The brick chicken is crispy and has a great taste but was a little dry. The river-caught salmon would have been underwhelming by itself. However, it was served on a bed of nutty, slightly citric quinoa salad we wouldn’t also mind ordering an extra side of itself.

3. Roka Akor (7299 N. Scottsdale Rd., Scottsdale)
Roka Akor’s name combines Japanese words for hearth and burning fire. This meaning is evident in the walkup to the restaurant, where two larger vases of fire warm the entrance of the London-based restaurant in Scottsdale. The restaurant prepares Robata Japanese cuisine and includes steaks, seafood and sushi in a sophisticated, yet relaxed, setting.

The Wait List, by Roka Akor. Photo by Shavon Thompson

The Wait List, by Roka Akor. Photo by Shavon Thompson

What to drink: Roka Akor’s “Wait List” cocktail will be a delight for all grapefruit fans. It’s sweet, tangy and perfectly balanced. Typically, we like to keep our expensive cocktails to one per a meal, but we could easily go back for seconds.

The dishes: The butterfish tataki is the restaurant’s most popular appetizer. It’s spicy, buttery and light enough for those who don’t usually go for raw fish.

Roka Akor is usually a happy hour and sushi stop for Scottsdalians. But you would be missing out if you don’t reach for the dessert menu. Roka Akor serves a toffee cake filled with fudge and topped with peanut butter ice cream. The dessert menu also includes a rotating list of sorbets in seasonal and creative flavors. These are a must-try for the lighter appetites.

Top5-Sushi

Top 5 Restaurants: Sushi (Spring-Summer 2014)

Get ready to experience Arizona’s spring/summer 2014 Top 5 Restaurants Sushi! And use Experience AZ to guide you toward a visit that will make you want to come back time after time to keep crossing the must see hot spots off your Top 5 lists.



Top 5 Restaurants: Sushi

Pearl Sushi Lounge & Bomber Bar
Location: 2 Locations Old Town Scottsdale and Chandler
(480) 963-4766
Website
Pearl is a stylish, high-energy sushi bar the merges modern cuisine and fabulous cocktails into a hip, contemporary environment that provides the coolest place to eat, drink, party and people watch. The newly remodeled Scottsdale location is perfect for corporate events and meetings in addition to the ultimate social gathering.
Roka Akor
7299 N. Scottsdale Rd. Scottsdale, AZ 85253

(480) 306-8800
Website
Voted by Bon Appétit magazine as one of the Top 10 Sushi Spots in the United States, Roka Akor offers prime steak and sushi in a robatayki style (open charcoal) cuisine.

Sushi Brokers
4419 E. Indian School Rd. Phoenix, AZ 85018

(480) 515-5000
Website
Choose from more than 20 creative sushi rolls that are interesting and tasty along with a nice selection of wines that are offered for the perfect pairing. In addition, Sushi Brokers features many bottled beers, sake and a large array of vodka.

RA Sushi Bar
Location: 6 locations throughout the Valley
(480) 940-1111 (Phoenix Location)
Website
Signature rolls, Japanese fusion cuisine, a vibrant atmosphere with lively music and inventive cocktails — you’ll find it all (and more) at RA.
Stingray Sushi
Location: 3 locations in Phoenix and Scottsdale
(602) 955-2008 (Phoenix Location)
Website
Delivering a unique blend of contemporary style and energy with Latin-influenced Japanese cuisine, Stingray Sushi is a distinctive experience.
fun-fact-sushi
Easterdining

Phoenix Valley Easter Sunday Dining Guide

Phoenix Valley Easter Sunday dining is full of opportunity. One of these restaurants is sure to have what you’re looking for!

Caballero Grill’s Easter Champagne Brunch

In addition to Caballero’s usual items, which include a seafood bar, taco bar, Ceviche and omelet station, they will be featuring dishes to honor of the Easter holiday. The carving station will have both roast beef and ham, and eggs will also be in the spotlight with eggs Benedict and deviled eggs, in addition to the made-to-order omelet station.

When: March 31 from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Where: 1800 N. Litchfield Rd in Goodyear 85395

Cost: $20 for adults and $12 for kids under 12

 

T. Cook’s at Royal Palms Resort and Spa

This special holiday menu will feature entrees including the Mediterranean Benedict with fingerling potatoes, Tuscan olive relish, roasted tomato relish; Marscapone Stuffed French Toast with vanilla butter, warm maple syrup, powdered sugar; and Campari Tomato & Proscuitto Frittata with estate oranges, spiced arugula salad, fleur de sel.

When: March 31 from 9 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Where: 5200 East Camelback Rd., Phoenix 85018

Cost: $75 per person, $25 for children 12 and under, free for children five and under

 

Sassi’s Easter Brunch

Enjoy a classic Italian Easter brunch this year at Sassi. Chef Chris Nicosia will inspire your taste buds on a tour through Italy with handmade pastas, artisanal cheeses and salumi. Highlights include:

  • Caprese Salad with Buffalo Mozzarella
  • Frittata with Artichokes, Goat Cheese and Herbs
  • Poached Egg Bruschetta, Asparagus, Prosciutto, Sundried Tomato Zabaglione
  • “Italian Toast”, Nutella, Hazelnut Syrup
  • Wood Oven Roasted Leg of Lamb, Fingerling Potatoes, Caramelized Artichokes
  • Porcini Roasted Beef Strip Loin
  • 
Apricot Columba with Apricot Amaretto Sauce
  • 
Flourless Chocolate Cake, Chocolate Cream, Raspberries

When: March 31, 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Where: 10455 E. Pinnacle Peak Pkwy., Scottsdale 85255

Cost: $50, children under 12 are $25 (not including 20% service charge, alcohol and tax)

 

Easter Brunch at McDowell Mountain Golf Club

Join friends and family for a traditional Easter brunch at an affordable price. Options at McDowell Mountain Golf Club are endless with a bakery variety, omelete station, a carving station, fruits, desserts and complimentary mimosas.

Where: 10690 E. Sheena Dr., Scottsdale 85255

When: March 31, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Cost: $35 for adults, $15 for children (not including tax and gratuity)

 

Scottsdale Grille at Starfire Golf Club Easter Brunch

This brunch at Scottsdale Grill at Starfire Golf Club is fit for a king and includes a made-to-order omelet station, carved prime rib, ham and lamb, and a build-your-own bloody mary and mimosa bar. Entrees include Bacon & Sausage, Lemon Ricotta Pancakes, Southwest Egg Frittata, Pan Seared Salmon, Smoked Chicken Breast with Mixed Vegetable Hash, along with an array of side dishes and sweet endings. Enjoy your Easter brunch feast with the whole family.

Reservations are required! Please call 480.948.6000, ext. 109

When: March 31, 11 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Where: 11500 N. Hayden Rd., Scottsdale 85260

Cost: $31.95, Children 6-12 are $13.95, Children five and under eat free. (Does not include 20% gratuity and tax.)

 

Dinner at Roka Akor

Roka Akor is serving a five-course Easter dinner unlike any other. Executive Chef Jason Alford is straying away from traditional and cooking up innovated dishes including Japanese-style grilled rabbit, sashimi and short ribs.

  • Course 1: Kanpachi Sashimi with Compressed Watermelon and Avocado
  • Course 2: Bison Short Rib with Braised Daikon and Japanese Mustard
  • Course 3: Robata Rabbit Loin with Aka Miso and Baby Gold Beets
  • Course 4: Roasted Duck and Mushroom Rice Hotpot
  • Course 5: Flourless Chocolate Cake with Raspberry Cashew Ice Cream

When: March 31, 4 p.m. – 10 p.m.

Where: 7299 N. Scottsdale Rd., Scottsdale 85258

Cost: $55 per person

 

Ben & Jack’s Steakhouse

Dine in a charming 5,000-square-foot modern restaurant this Easter, Ben & Jack’s invites you to experience a delicious meal with your friend and family. The steakhouse is offering a three course pre-fixed menu which includes the following items:

  • Your choice of one starter — Mixed Green Salad, Caesar Salad, Mozzarella & Tomatoes, Maryland Crab Cake or Soup of the Day
  • Your choice of entrée — Rack of Lamb, Prime New York Sirloin Steak, Grilled Norwegian Salmon, or Veal Chop
  • One side item — Creamed Spinach, Broccoli (Steamed or Sautéed), Peas and Onions, German Potato, or 1/2 Cottage Fries & 1/2 Fried Onion Rings
  • Your choice of dessert — Apple Strudel, Carrot Cake, Cheesecake, or Chocolate Mousse Cake
  • Coffee and Tea

Where: 4180 N Drinkwater Blvd., Scottsdale 85251

When: March 31, beginning at 4 p.m., Reservations recommended

Cost: $65.95 per person (not including tax and gratuity)

 

Olive & Ivy

Sip on mimosas made with freshly squeezed orange juice at Olive & Ivy while nibbling on specialty Easter features like sea scallops, sweet potato cannelloni, smoked salmon benedict, caramel apple flapjacks and more. Or, enjoy an assortment of breakfast items, flatbreads, salads, sandwiches and entrées. Call (480) 751-2200 for reservations.

Where: Scottsdale Waterfront, 7135 E Camelback Rd., Ste. 195, Scottsdale

When: March 31, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.

 

Modern Steak

At Modern Steak, enjoy an array of heavenly brunch items including a delectable asparagus frittata, crispy French toast, prime sirloin and eggs and brioche doughnut holes, or choose from a number of starters, salads and mouth-watering entrées. Book reservations by calling (480) 423-7000.

Where: Scottsdale Fashion Square, 7014 E. Camelback Rd., Ste.1433, Scottsdale

When: March 31, 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.

 

The Greene House

Offering California-inspired brunch specials including items like French toast with caramelized bananas and almond streusel and a spring vegetable frittata, The Greene House will have the regular lunch menu. Call (480) 889-9494 for reservations.

Where: Kierland Commons, 15024 N. Scottsdale Rd., Ste. 160, Scottsdale

When: March 31, 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.

 

North

Easter Sunday brunch menu the whole family can enjoy. Order the decadent baked French toast with vanilla maple syrup for the kids while the grown-ups nibble on sweet and savory items like nonna fried eggs and granola parfait with local honey, Greek yogurt and dried fruit at North.

Where: Kierland Commons, 15024 N. Scottsdale Rd., Ste.160, Scottsdale, (480) 948-2055; and Arcadia, 4925 N. 40th St., Phoenix, (602) 324-5600

When: March 31, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

 

True Food Kitchen

Cooking up their regular brunch menu at True Food Kitchen filled with favorites like quinoa Johnny cake and tofu scramble, or feast on specials only available on Easter Sunday from including grilled rainbow trout or chicken sausage scramble.

Where: Scottsdale Quarter, 15191 N. Scottsdale Rd., Ste. 100, Scottsdale, (480) 265-4500; and Biltmore Fashion Park, 2502 E. Camelback Rd., Ste. 135, Phoenix, (602) 774-3488

When: March 31, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

 

Culinary Dropout

Stop in for brunch and stay and play at The Yard all afternoon. Brunch at The Yard will feature cap’n crunch crusted French toast and biscuits with sausage gravy served with sunny side up eggs. Scottsdale will be open for lunch.

Where: The Yard, 5632 N. 7th St., Phoenix, (602) 680-4040; and Scottsdale Waterfront, 7135 E. Camelback Rd., Ste. 125, Scottsdale, (480)970-1700.

When: March 31, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.(Phoenix), Opening for lunch at 11 a.m. (Scottsdale)

 

Monti’s Steakhouse

One of the Valley’s most traditional restaurants is whipping up several specialties for you to indulge in on this special day. Executive Chef Jimmy Hernandez has created a wallet-friendly menu filled with delectable choices for your Easter Sunday. Highlights include:

  • Smoked salmon rolls
  • Stuffed squash blossom
  • Arugula salad
  • Lamb chops with pomegranate ancho chili sauce
  • Butternut squash and spinach
  • Salmon served with wild caught Pacific shrimp, roasted fingerling potatoes, candied snap peas, bacon and truffle cream sauce
  • Strawberry shortcake

Where: 100 South Mill Avenue, Tempe 85281 (480) 967-7594

When: March 31, 11 a.m. – 10 p.m.

Cost: Most appetizers remain around or under $10, while entrees range from the low to mid-twenties

easterdining2

Scottsdale's Easter Sunday Dining Guide

Scottsdale’s Easter Sunday dining is full of opportunity. One of these restaurants is sure to have what you’re looking for!

Sassi’s Easter Brunch

Enjoy a classic Italian Easter brunch this year at Sassi. Chef Chris Nicosia will inspire your taste buds on a tour through Italy with handmade pastas, artisanal cheeses and salumi. Highlights include:

  • Caprese Salad with Buffalo Mozzarella
  • Frittata with Artichokes, Goat Cheese and Herbs
  • Poached Egg Bruschetta, Asparagus, Prosciutto, Sundried Tomato Zabaglione
  • “Italian Toast”, Nutella, Hazelnut Syrup
  • Wood Oven Roasted Leg of Lamb, Fingerling Potatoes, Caramelized Artichokes
  • Porcini Roasted Beef Strip Loin
  • 
Apricot Columba with Apricot Amaretto Sauce
  • 
Flourless Chocolate Cake, Chocolate Cream, Raspberries

When: March 31, 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Where: 10455 E. Pinnacle Peak Pkwy., Scottsdale, AZ 85255

Cost: $50, children under 12 are $25 (not including 20% service charge, alcohol and tax)

Easter Brunch at McDowell Mountain Golf Club

Join friends and family for a traditional Easter brunch at an affordable price. Options at McDowell Mountain Golf Club are endless with a bakery variety, omelete station, a carving station, fruits, desserts and complimentary mimosas.

Where: 10690 E. Sheena Dr., Scottsdale, AZ 85255

When: March 31, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Cost: $35 for adults, $15 for children (not including tax and gratuity)

Scottsdale Grille at Starfire Golf Club Easter Brunch

This brunch at Scottsdale Grill at Starfire Golf Club is fit for a king and includes a made-to-order omelet station, carved prime rib, ham and lamb, and a build-your-own bloody mary and mimosa bar. Entrees include Bacon & Sausage, Lemon Ricotta Pancakes, Southwest Egg Frittata, Pan Seared Salmon, Smoked Chicken Breast with Mixed Vegetable Hash, along with an array of side dishes and sweet endings. Enjoy your Easter brunch feast with the whole family.

Reservations are required! Please call 480.948.6000, ext. 109

When: March 31, 11 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Where: 11500 N. Hayden Rd., Scottsdale, AZ 85260

Cost: $31.95, Children 6-12 are $13.95, Children five and under eat free. (Does not include 20% gratuity and tax.)

Dinner at Roka Akor

Roka Akor is serving a five-course Easter dinner unlike any other. Executive Chef Jason Alford is straying away from traditional and cooking up innovated dishes including Japanese-style grilled rabbit, sashimi and short ribs.

  • Course 1: Kanpachi Sashimi with Compressed Watermelon and Avocado
  • Course 2: Bison Short Rib with Braised Daikon and Japanese Mustard
  • Course 3: Robata Rabbit Loin with Aka Miso and Baby Gold Beets
  • Course 4: Roasted Duck and Mushroom Rice Hotpot
  • Course 5: Flourless Chocolate Cake with Raspberry Cashew Ice Cream


When: March 31, 4 p.m. – 10 p.m.

Where: 7299 N. Scottsdale Rd., Scottsdale, AZ 85258

Cost: $55 per person

Ben & Jack’s Steakhouse

Dine in a charming 5,000-square-foot modern restaurant this Easter, Ben & Jack’s invites you to experience a delicious meal with your friend and family. The steakhouse is offering a three course pre-fixed menu which includes the following items:

  • Your choice of one starter — Mixed Green Salad, Caesar Salad, Mozzarella & Tomatoes, Maryland Crab Cake or Soup of the Day
  • Your choice of entrée — Rack of Lamb, Prime New York Sirloin Steak, Grilled Norwegian Salmon, or Veal Chop
  • One side item — Creamed Spinach, Broccoli (Steamed or Sautéed), Peas and Onions, German Potato, or 1/2 Cottage Fries & 1/2 Fried Onion Rings
  • Your choice of dessert — Apple Strudel, Carrot Cake, Cheesecake, or Chocolate Mousse Cake
  • Coffee and Tea

Where: 4180 N Drinkwater Blvd., Scottsdale, AZ 85251

When: March 31, beginning at 4 p.m., Reservations recommended

Cost: $65.95 per person (not including tax and gratuity)

Olive & Ivy

Sip on mimosas made with freshly squeezed orange juice at Olive & Ivy while nibbling on specialty Easter features like sea scallops, sweet potato cannelloni, smoked salmon benedict, caramel apple flapjacks and more. Or, enjoy an assortment of breakfast items, flatbreads, salads, sandwiches and entrées. Call (480) 751-2200 for reservations.

Where: Scottsdale Waterfront, 7135 E Camelback Rd., Ste. 195, Scottsdale, AZ

When: March 31, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Modern Steak

At Modern Steak, enjoy an array of heavenly brunch items including a delectable asparagus frittata, crispy French toast, prime sirloin and eggs and brioche doughnut holes, or choose from a number of starters, salads and mouth-watering entrées. Book reservations by calling (480) 423-7000.

Where: Scottsdale Fashion Square, 7014 E. Camelback Rd., Ste.1433, Scottsdale.

When: March 31, 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.

The Greene House

Offering California-inspired brunch specials including items like French toast with caramelized bananas and almond streusel and a spring vegetable frittata, The Greene House will have the regular lunch menu. Call (480) 889-9494 for reservations.

Where: Kierland Commons, 15024 N. Scottsdale Rd., Ste. 160, Scottsdale

When: March 31, 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.

North

Easter Sunday brunch menu the whole family can enjoy. Order the decadent baked French toast with vanilla maple syrup for the kids while the grown-ups nibble on sweet and savory items like nonna fried eggs and granola parfait with local honey, Greek yogurt and dried fruit at North.

Where: Kierland Commons, 15024 N. Scottsdale Rd., Ste.160, Scottsdale, (480) 948-2055

When: March 31, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

True Food Kitchen

Cooking up their regular brunch menu at True Food Kitchen filled with favorites like quinoa Johnny cake and tofu scramble, or feast on specials only available on Easter Sunday from including grilled rainbow trout or chicken sausage scramble.

Where: Scottsdale Quarter, 15191 N. Scottsdale Rd., Ste. 100, Scottsdale, (480) 265-4500.

When: March 31, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

strawberries

Do Something Different for Valentine’s Day

As Valentine’s Day rolls around again, many couples will find themselves in the same old flowers-and-dinner routine.

There are many places around the Valley that offer something a little different this year, whether for first dates or long-married couples. Here are some to think about:

1. Romance in the Garden: On Feb. 16, the Desert Botanical Garden is hosting a candlelit outdoor concert by Chris Burton Jácome Flamenco Ensemble. Dinner, wine flights and bottles of champagne are available. Can’t celebrate on Thursday? Take Saturday to hear sexy music under the stars with a glass of wine.

Ullman Terrace, 6-9 p.m. Dinner tickets must be purchased ahead. 480-481-8188

2. Chocolate Affaire: From Feb. 8-10, experience downtown Glendale’s festival of chocolate, wine and romance. Watch chocolatiers making their specialties and sample treats like chocolate-covered bacon. Bring the kids for crafts and rock-climbing, and take a ride in a horse-drawn carriage through the historic district.

Starts Friday at 5 p.m. Park in garages at 59th Ave & Glenn Dr.

3. Citrine Natural Beauty Bar: Fragrances definitely play a big part in everyone’s Valentine’s Day. Melissa at Citrine will take time to blend you a customized fragrance from the purest organic essential oils. Ingredients like Somalian Frankincense and Egyptian Jasmine are aphrodisiacs, or try a blend that matches your astrological sign.

At UNION Biltmore. 602-955-2354. Mon.-Sat. 10 a.m.-8 p.m., Sun. 12 p.m.-6 p.m.

4. Picasso at the Lapin Agile: Written by Steve Martin, this play is being performed by the Brelby Theatre Company in Glendale. Think Einstein and Picasso at a Paris café in 1904, add Steve Martin’s intelligent humor, a special cameo and great acting, and you have an idea of what to expect.

7:30 p.m. Thurs-Sat through Feb. 23. Tickets $20. Brelby.com. 6839 N. 58th Ave.

5. The Spouse Whisperer: If you’re looking for laughs, head over to Wild Horse Pass Hotel & Casino to hear Mark Cordes’ tongue-in-cheek, sharp-witted humor about marriage and middle age. This hysterical look at couples’ life is a great change of pace for Valentine’s Day.

Ovations LIVE! Showroom, 7:15 p.m. Tickets $15. 877-840-0457

6. Roka Akor: While prix-fixe menus are a staple of many V-Day dinners, this one stands out. Items like wild boar bacon, lobster tartare and mushroom tempura will be served in three seatings: 5, 7 and 9 p.m. Voted one of the top ten sushi restaurants in the U.S., Roka Akor is an excellent date spot as well as a culinary destination. This menu will be served through the 16th if you can’t make it Thursday.

$98 per person. 7299 N. Scottsdale Rd. 480-306-8800

7. The Bassics of Love: On the 14th, the ASU Kerr Cultural Center is featuring Chunyang Wang, who studied at Julliard and played in the New York Asian Symphony Orchestra. Wang will perform timeless classics from Rachmaninov, Mozart and Piazzolla on double bass and piano.

7:30 p.m. Tickets from $10.50: vip.me/AAMOdCWkHBM. 6110 N. Scottsdale Rd.

 

strawberries

Do Something Different for Valentine’s Day

As Valentine’s Day rolls around again, many couples will find themselves in the same old flowers-and-dinner routine.

There are many places around the Valley that offer something a little different this year, whether for first dates or long-married couples. Here are some to think about:

1. Romance in the Garden: On Feb. 16, the Desert Botanical Garden is hosting a candlelit outdoor concert by Chris Burton Jácome Flamenco Ensemble. Dinner, wine flights and bottles of champagne are available. Can’t celebrate on Thursday? Take Saturday to hear sexy music under the stars with a glass of wine.

Ullman Terrace, 6-9 p.m. Dinner tickets must be purchased ahead. 480-481-8188

2. Chocolate Affaire: From Feb. 8-10, experience downtown Glendale’s festival of chocolate, wine and romance. Watch chocolatiers making their specialties and sample treats like chocolate-covered bacon. Bring the kids for crafts and rock-climbing, and take a ride in a horse-drawn carriage through the historic district.

Starts Friday at 5 p.m. Park in garages at 59th Ave & Glenn Dr.

3. Citrine Natural Beauty Bar: Fragrances definitely play a big part in everyone’s Valentine’s Day. Melissa at Citrine will take time to blend you a customized fragrance from the purest organic essential oils. Ingredients like Somalian Frankincense and Egyptian Jasmine are aphrodisiacs, or try a blend that matches your astrological sign.

At UNION Biltmore. 602-955-2354. Mon.-Sat. 10 a.m.-8 p.m., Sun. 12 p.m.-6 p.m.

4. Picasso at the Lapin Agile: Written by Steve Martin, this play is being performed by the Brelby Theatre Company in Glendale. Think Einstein and Picasso at a Paris café in 1904, add Steve Martin’s intelligent humor, a special cameo and great acting, and you have an idea of what to expect.

7:30 p.m. Thurs-Sat through Feb. 23. Tickets $20. Brelby.com. 6839 N. 58th Ave.

5. The Spouse Whisperer: If you’re looking for laughs, head over to Wild Horse Pass Hotel & Casino to hear Mark Cordes’ tongue-in-cheek, sharp-witted humor about marriage and middle age. This hysterical look at couples’ life is a great change of pace for Valentine’s Day.

Ovations LIVE! Showroom, 7:15 p.m. Tickets $15. 877-840-0457

6. Roka Akor: While prix-fixe menus are a staple of many V-Day dinners, this one stands out. Items like wild boar bacon, lobster tartare and mushroom tempura will be served in three seatings: 5, 7 and 9 p.m. Voted one of the top ten sushi restaurants in the U.S., Roka Akor is an excellent date spot as well as a culinary destination. This menu will be served through the 16th if you can’t make it Thursday.

$98 per person. 7299 N. Scottsdale Rd. 480-306-8800

7. The Bassics of Love: On the 14th, the ASU Kerr Cultural Center is featuring Chunyang Wang, who studied at Julliard and played in the New York Asian Symphony Orchestra. Wang will perform timeless classics from Rachmaninov, Mozart and Piazzolla on double bass and piano.

7:30 p.m. Tickets from $10.50: vip.me/AAMOdCWkHBM. 6110 N. Scottsdale Rd.

8. Vampire’s Wedding: If you’re in the Tucson area and looking for a laugh, head to Tucson Dinner Theatre on the 14th. “Murder at The Vampire’s Wedding” is a 3-act interactive show at Arizona’s oldest dinner theatre. A 3-course meal and champagne toast will be served, and the ladies will receive a ‘Keepstake’ rose.

2744 E. Broadway Blvd. 520-624-0172. Tickets $42. Show starts at 7 p.m.

9. Orange Sky: If you prefer something a little more traditional, Orange Sky at Talking Stick is offering an excellent $70 prix-fixe on the 14th. What makes Orange Sky different is the romantic, award-winning view of the Valley at dusk. The wine room is stunning and a sommelier can help you choose the best bottle.

9800 E. Indian Bend Rd. Reservations: http://www.talkingstickresort.com/orange-sky.aspx

Dress code enforced: see site for details.

Roka Akor features Robatayaki cuisine. Photo: Roka Akor

Top 5: Sushi Bars (Fall-Winter 2012)

The Top 5 Sushi Bars — as voted on by Experience AZ readers:

Sapporo

14344 N. Scottsdale Rd.,
Scottsdale, AZ 85254
(480) 607-1114
sapporoscottsdale.com
Sapporo offers its guests a fresh experience with premium sushi and Teppanyaki, Asian specialties like grilled black cod (glazed in Miso), happy hour specials and more.


Stingray Sushi

Three locations in Phoenix
and Scottsdale
(602) 955.2008 (Phoenix)
stingraysushi.com
Delivering a unique blend of contemporary style and energy with Latin-influenced Japanese cuisine, Stingray Sushi is a truly distinctive experience.


Geisha A Go Go

7150 E. 6th Ave.,
Scottsdale, AZ 85250
(480) 699-0055
geishaagogo.com
This is truly an entertainment dining experience, bringing Japanese pop culture to Scottsdale with sushi, rock ‘n’ roll and private karaoke rooms.


RA Sushi Bar

Six locations throughout the Valley
(480) 940-1111 (Phoenix)
rasushi.com
Signature rolls, Japanese fusion cuisine, a vibrant atmosphere with lively music and inventive cocktails — you’ll find it all (and more) at RA.


Roka Akor

7299 N. Scottsdale Rd.,
Paradise Valley, AZ 85253
(480) 306-8800
rokaakor.com
Voted by Bon Appétit magazine as one of the Top 10 Sushi Spots in the United States, Roka Akor offers prime steak and sushi in a robatayki-style (open charcoal) cuisine.

Experience AZ Fall-Winter 2012

 

Roka Akor Butterfish Takaki

Minimalist Decor At Roka Akor Allows The Food To Shine

Don’t let the understated decor of Roka Akor fool you, for the true masterpiece awaits you the moment you take your seat. Simple furnishings — wood floors and tables and stone-like walls — let the cuisine take center stage. Roka Akor Interior

The centerpiece of the restaurant is the massive robata grill powered by charcoal and maintained by attentive chefs who carefully grill, glaze and garnish. The grand grill sits in the middle of the restaurant, allowing guests to watch everything as it is being made.

Roka Akor has journeyed far to reach Scottsdale. The original restaurant opened in London, with other locations opening in Macau and recently in Hong Kong. With such an international resume, it seems surprising that this chain would choose Scottsdale to open its flagship U.S. location. Yet, here it is and we couldn’t be any happier to have it.

Roka Akor Black CodDescribed as Japanese Robatayaki cuisine, the menu has endless options to choose from. From traditional sushi to great grill items, Roka Akor has myriad dishes. We began the evening with a traditional component of a Japanese meal: edamame. The steamed edamame with sea salt was the perfect beginning for the feast that awaited us. Tasty cocktails were in abundance, with shochu infusions being the top draw. The vodka-like alcohol is distilled from wheat or barley and Roka Akor carries several flavors. The cocktails also serve a dual purpose, according to the menu: The raspberry shochu helps to improve memory, and the shiso lime schochu is listed as aiding in “great skin and blood tonic.”

Next, we selected appetizing snacks from the cold and warm starters. The butterfish tataki melted in your mouth and the white asparagus and yuzu shallot dressing rounded out the flavor. Favorites of the evening were the spicy beef and kimchi dumplings, lightly fried to crispy perfection. The grilled asparagus topped with sweet sesame and the grilled eggplant were also well received. When dining at a Japanese restaurant, sushi is always a must. We ordered a variety of familiar rolls, shrimp tempura, spicy tuna and softshell crab, to please the palate and none disappointed.

With plenty of delectable robata dishes to choose from, we settled on a range of flavors; a grilled salmon teriyaki, lamb cutlets, and duck breast basted with honey and sansho pepper. The lamb was everything you could ask for — tender, juicy and infused with Korean spices. But the pièce de résistance was the grilled Madagascan tiger prawn. The massive marine crustacean is the world’s largest species of prawn and was certainly the star of the meal. Grilled on the robata, the prawn was flavored with yuzu Roka Akor Barkoshyu chili paste, a tangy spice that gave it just the right amount of zing.

Our meal was paired with a few tasty side dishes. One standout was the rice hot pot, precisely described as “Japanese risotto.” The rice dish was comprised of various mushrooms and wild plants cooked in harmony to create the quintessential texture of risotto.

If you’re not too worried about breaking the bank, for nearly $20 an ounce, the Japanese wagyu beef sirloin can only be expressed as exquisite. It is, after all, recognized as one of the best beefs in the world. Our small tasting was given compliments of the chef, thanks to a chance remark that caught his attention.

For dessert, we decided on the Roka Akor platter, which proved quite a sight to see. Served on a large stone plate, the platter included a wide variety of tastes, textures and colors to please all. Four delicate scoops of sorbet in flavors ranging from raspberry to green tea were placed on a huge cube of ice in the middle of the plate. For the chocolate lovers, the platter also included a moist, chocolate cake filled with a molten green tea center. A final unique taste found on the platter was the chawan mushi, a Japanese custard with strawberries and honeycomb.

Presentation is key to Roka Akor’s appeal. Everything is served on rustic stone plates, intentionally simple to draw attention to the food. With a no-fuss approach to making great-tasting food and serving it up in style, Roka Akor is sure to be in the Valley for the long haul. Welcome aboard.

www.rokaakor.com