Tag Archives: shrimp tempura

sushi platter

Sushi Roku Blends Trendy With Traditional For A New Dining Experience

At the heart of the new W Scottsdale, Sushi Roku is taking the dining world by storm. With various locations in the Los Angeles area, as well as one in Las Vegas, this contemporary twist on Japanese cuisine has arrived to make its mark on Arizona territory.

The architecture and decor are a sleek combination of modern design and traditional Japanese accents. The bar area is comprised of concrete and a large, natural tree-root that sits at its base. Dark wood floors, an elliptical sushi bar flanking the dining area, and a dim, candle-lit atmosphere lure you in. No, this is no ordinary sushi place, but rather a total dining experience.

Sushi Roku dishUpon entering the restaurant, staff members enthusiastically greet diners, yelling out “Irasshai!” This warm Japanese welcome was the beginning of the flavorful journey that we were about to embark on. We began the evening with some traditional starters, including edamame, as well as a unique offshoot of the well-known favorite, edamame hummus, served with vegetable wonton chips. The edamame were warm, crisp and salty — just the way I like them. The hummus was also a hit, complemented by the flavor-packed chips. The standout from the appetizers was definitely the Kobe beef skewers. The tender, moist beef was offset by a punch of spice that woke up the taste buds.

Dining in a restaurant with sushi as part of its namesake made our dinner selection a no-brainer. We began with a natural choice for sushi lovers: the oldie but goody, California roll. After sampling a wide array, including caterpillar, softshell crab and salmon sashimi, we were still hungry for more. We decided on the katana roll, and the signature dish was well received; a combination of tuna, yellowtail, spicy tuna and shrimp tempura, it had just the right amount of zest to please. But the pièce de résistance of the sushi selections was the baked lobster roll. Covered in a creamy miso sauce, the roll had a buttery, melt-in-your-mouth taste that was a perfect balance of flavors — not too spicy, not too bland, but just right. Side tempura dishes of eggplant, sweet potato and carrot made eating vegetables a pleasure rather than a chore. Sure they may have been deep fried, but it still counts in my book.

No meal is complete without dessert and to my delight, it didn’t disappoint. Though we enjoyed the frangelico creme brulee, there was a clear winner in my eyes. A chocolate lover at heart, the lava cake was the perfect ending to a satisfying meal.

Sushi Roku can be described as part trendy sushi bar, part elegant dining excursion. All in all, Sushi Roku is a fusion of great tasting Japanese cuisine, sleek design and a hip presentation of meals. As the staff pleasantly says when you leave, “Arigatou!” Thank you! And we will indeed come again.

If you go:
7277 E. Camelback Rd.

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.