Roka Akor in Paradise Valley: Happy Hour Report Card

The Spot: Roka Akor 7299 North Scottsdale Road, Paradise Valley 480-306-8800 www.rokaakor.com

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The Hours: Happy Hour is offered 4:30 p.m. until close through the end of August.

The Interior: We've stopped by Roka Akor's happy hour before, but were so excited that they've extended deals until close during the summer that we decided to drop in again. The upscale Paradise Valley sushi and steak joint has a lovely, simple Japanese-inspired décor. Oodles of sakes and wines are on display in the bar and lounge area, which you can check out from high top, bar top or more comfortable, but highly coveted, couch seating.

The Food: We have never seen such an expansive happy hour menu. With nearly 30 completely different options, happy hour isn't simply about getting a couple appetizers for a cheap price. While the cold plate items mostly feature well-crafted sushi with a $9-$16 price tag, the hot plate options are much more reasonably priced between $2 and $10. That's not to say the cold plates aren't worth it (we loved our spicy tuna rolls, which came on a plate of eight for $9), but there are better deals on the menu. The roast duck udon with kimchi ($8), for example, was an absolutely delicious balance of spicy, sweet, gamey, and tart, not letting the duck overpower the dish in any way. While the soft shell crab sandwich might look a little sci-fi, the combo of the crispy crab and creamy avocado makes for a $5 well spent. If you're just looking for a snack, the sweet corn tempura is a crunchy, sweet, and salty treat that's served in generous portions for only $4. While we understand the cold plates' up-charge, we weren't impressed when we ordered the $4 seafood and scallop ceviche street taco and received one small taco for $4. We'll just go elsewhere for tacos, though, because everything else that we tried was stellar.

The Drink: Much like the multitude of food offerings, the drink menu is actually a book, with a handful of them being discounted during happy hour. Two-for-$5 Japanese beer, $3 off glasses of wine and martinis, and $5 house sake are all available during happy hour. However, we're suckers for the spirits so we stuck to the liquor options. Pass right by the $6 well cocktails, which are not a good deal, onto the $8 specialty cocktails and $7 shochu infusions. When we dropped in the infusions included pineapple and mango options, but we tried the honey shochu. The strong honey flavor in the shochu tasted like a marriage of drambuie and sake. Plus we love the single, large ice rock in the middle of the glass.

The Conclusion: It's easy to see why Roka Akor is packed during happy hour all throughout the week. Roka offers so many things in the way of food and drink that it's a great stop for any tastes. Plus, what you get is of high quality with tons of flavor, showing that they're not just discounting a couple cheap appetizers to try to pull in a happy hour crowd. This is definitely one of our favorite happy hours in the area and we wish other restaurants would follow Roka's example.

Grade: A

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