I'd certainly order sushi here again, but I wouldn't go out of my way for it like I would the robata items, which were nicely prepared. Classic yakitori skewers of chicken and leek were lightly charred and glazed with teriyaki sauce. Tender asparagus shoots got a similar treatment. Chunks of eggplant, cooked to an almost fluffy consistency, were doused in a fragrant blend of mirin, soy, and ginger. And saikyo yaki (yuzu and miso-marinated black cod) was savory and ultra buttery, wrapped in a big leaf propped open with a bright pink shoot of pickled ginger.

Those dishes were delicious, but a few more were downright dazzling. Juicy lamb cutlets seasoned with Korean spices came with a side of mystery dip that tasted like chile-miso paste. A single grilled wild Madagascar prawn took the prize for most dramatic, with its head perched on the plate along with a skewer of smoky-sweet body meat, which took on a spicy tanginess from dabs of yuzu kosho (a paste of yuzu, chile, and salt). And moist, honey-glazed duck breast was outstanding, paired with a bowl of ripe mango balls in a mildly spiced glaze.

I also tried a couple things that were neither robatayaki nor sushi. Foie gras no umeshu fumi was an intriguing creation, with two tangy-sweet slices of chilled, seaweed-wrapped foie gras, a soft, fat plum, and a pile of lacy, black squid ink crackers. Meanwhile, kama meshi was a hot pot filled with three kinds of Japanese mushrooms, wild mountain vegetables, and creamy, risotto-like rice — a homey, comforting contrast to that esoteric foie dish.

Drama class: Behold Roka Akor's behemoth Madagascar prawn.
Jackie Mercandetti
Drama class: Behold Roka Akor's behemoth Madagascar prawn.

Location Info


Roka Akor

7299 N. Scottsdale Road
Paradise Valley, AZ 85253

Category: Restaurant > Japanese

Region: Paradise Valley


Butterfish tataki: $12.60
Softshell crab roll: $8.90
Marinated black cod: $26.30
Grilled duck breast: $24.30
480-306-8800, »web link
Hours: Sunday through Wednesday, 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. (lounge until midnight; Thursday through Saturday, 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. (lounge until 2 a.m.)
Roka Akor, 7299 North Scottsdale Rd., Scottsdale

A server explained that Roka's London headquarters hired a French pastry chef to create the desserts — that makes sense, considering how traditional Japanese sweets are made with beans and rice flour and things that might not appeal to Western palates. (I love them, though.)

So even though I hadn't expected dessert to blow me away, I was pretty psyched when the Roka Akor dessert platter showed up. What a decadent display — fresh strawberries, blackberries, lychees and mango; molten chocolate pudding cake with a gooey matcha middle; custard topped with diced fruit and chunks of honeycomb; and scoops of ice cream arranged on a block of ice. The "Raspberry and ivoire chocolate usugiri" turned out to be a confection of orange cake, raspberry ganache, fresh raspberries, lychees, and white chocolate curls, all arranged on a pool of vanilla-rose crème anglaise.

I'm so glad dessert wasn't an afterthought. Add that to Roka Akor's list of details done right.

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Tom Ryder
Tom Ryder

This place looks cool. I like that they don't just have sushi like so many other places in town, they are going for something a little more unique.

I saw their video on youtube, food looks really good.