Back in September, Soraya (of Chic Flavours) moved to Abu Dhabi with her husband, leaving us Chicago bloggers sadly behind. We all missed her terribly so when she mentioned she would be back in Chicago in December, we immediately scheduled a dinner date to catch up and hear about her Arabian adventures!
Katharine and I met her for dinner at one of my favorite sushi spots in Chicago: Roka Akor. A little background about this swanky spot: “Like its award-winning London counterpart, Roka Akor Chicago offers the unparalleled combination of thoughtful design and contemporary Robata Japanese cuisine. 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.”
And what energy! Their unique Japanese cuisine, while expensive, is obsessively addicting and I’ve long been noshing my way through their entire menu, dish by energetic dish.
But first let’s start with a libation! I opted for Roka Akor’s seasonal Shiro Shoga cocktail: Russell Henry White Ginger Gin, Jasmine Green Tea Honey, Lemon Juice, Bonal. Delicious, bright and complimentary to our meal.Next came a few appetizers… Including Roka’s signature appetizer: Robata Grilled Scallops with Yuzu Shiso and Wasabi. If you’re a seafood lover like us, you won’t want to miss these!! I could have easily eaten a dozen! Soraya ordered a side of Robata Grilled Japanese Shishito Peppers with Ponzu & Bonito Flakes. Their fresh ‘pepper’ flavor was delicious, mild and a great textural balance to the rest of our meal. Just be sure to add a few pinches of sea salt to really make their flavors sing. Katharine opted for the Tuna Four Ways Maki Roll which… you guessed it… incorporates tuna four different ways into the roll. Like every special maki roll on the menu, it’s a must-order! One thing Roka excels at is creating remarkably flavorful maki rolls that aren’t drenched in twelve difference sauces, masking the beauty of the seafood flavors themselves. If I’m eating an expensive cut of fish, I want to be able to taste it — not just a delicious but competing sauce!The Dynamite Scallop Maki Roll is another great example of this. It’s charred exterior and biting spicy zing don’t mask the delicate, fresh scallop flavor at all. #makiswoon But I’d heard a few people gush about their love for the Black Cod entrée so I knew exactly what I was going to order. Another signature dish of Roka Akor’s, this Yuzu Miso Marinated Black Cod with Pickled Red Onions is so unique, it’s downright poetic. The cod is brilliantly imbibed with the yuzu miso flavors and cooked to delicate perfection. It will literally MELT in your mouth. And as a lover of pickled onions, I found their slightly sweet, tart bite to be an innovative compliment to the texture and flavor of the cod. Not to mention how beautifully this dish is presented! I’ll need to order this again on my next daytime visit if only to capture its deliciousness better.
When a restaurant serves a savory meal as delicious as ours, it seems practically sacrilegious to forgo their dessert options, right?
Their beautifully crafted dessert menu had us suffering from some decision anxiety but eventually we narrowed our choices down to two. Soraya and Katharine ordered the Warm Chocolate Cake with Coffee Ice Cream, Caramel Sauce, Caramelized Peanuts. It was DA CHOCOLATE BOMB!!!But since I’ve mentioned before how much I love green tea flavored desserts I naturally went with Roka’s Green Tea Custard with Caramelized Banana, Centenario Chocolate, Vanilla-Banana Foam. I have a love-hate relationship with foamy desserts but this masterfully blended nibble was the perfect balance of textures with the banana foam integrating well with the other components as opposed to competing with them. Delicious!
It was a wonderful meal and a fantastic reunion! Be sure to check out Soraya’s outfit post from our dinner date too (didn’t her pink plaid sweater from Asos make a surprisingly perfect backdrop for the food?)!