Premium Japanese steak and seafood in Oak Brook
Korean Spiced Lamb Cutlets
Photo courtesy of Roka Akor
This may be outdoor grilling season, but it’s an indoor grill that gets the attention at Roka Akor in Oakbrook Center. While the décor is sleek and the ambiance is urban-meets-intimate, the focal point here is an open area with flames leaping off a long grill, searing sizzling meats and vegetables. On your way to the table, you are sure to be mesmerized by the prowess of the line of sous chefs, in a display that is part culinary skill, part art and part theater.
Opened last year in what was once an Abercrombie & Fitch store, Roka Akor reflects the way that shopping centers are evolving into dining and entertainment destinations. The inventive restaurant also exemplifies growing interest in authentic cuisines — in this case, a Japanese form of charcoal-based cooking called “robata.”
At Roka Akor, an array of foods are cooked in this hearth-style manner, all rich in flavor and creatively presented. In addition to grill-prepared items, the restaurant specializes in sushi, with several sashimi, nigiri and maki choices that span individual plates as well as platters and chef selections. Just as you can see the cooks showcase their grill expertise in the open kitchen, you can also watch them prepare sushi deftly and quickly. Get a spot at the sushi counter to see the action up close and personal as you eat.
The robata grill section of the menu is diverse. Given its description as a Japanese steakhouse, Roka Akor offers several steak items, including prime steaks and both Japanese and domestic wagyu. One distinctive and excellent item is the American wagyu sirloin, sliced and served with bone marrow and truffle aioli. The Japanese wagyu, known for its buttery, savory flavor (as well as its market price), comes in different grades, up to the higher-end A5-10+. Other proteins seared over the grill include seafood varieties, such as Chilean sea bass and Yuzo Miso marinated black cod, along with chicken and lamb dishes. The Korean spiced lamb cutlet paired with smoked eggplant and cucumber is another standout.
Sides and vegetables are equally vibrant and delectable. One specialty highlighted on the menu is the Japanese mushroom rice hot pot, which did not disappoint. Other choices include sweet potato with ginger teriyaki, tempura vegetables and sweet corn combined with soy and butter.
Finish off your repast with desserts like green tea custard or ube pot de crème, to name a couple of options.
The service at Roka Akor matches the thoughtful cooking. On our visit, servers and the restaurant manager stopped by the table several times — helpfully yet unobtrusively — to present dishes, answer any questions and check on our satisfaction with the meal. An onsite bar serves up a wide variety of drinks, including traditional Japanese spirits and sakes. Pay attention to the details: the ice at Roka Akor is made from purified water, frozen and hand cut into mini “icebergs” that keep drinks chilled while reinforcing the fact that they are artisanal.
Roka Akor hosts occasional events such as a Glenlivet Scotch dinner and offers special holiday menus.
166 Oakbrook Center, Oak Brook, 630 348-9210, www.rokaakor.com
American wagyu sirloin, Korean spiced lamb cutlet
Appetizers: $5 – $18
Entrées: $29 – $48
Sushi/sashimi: $7 – $24
Hours: M – Th, 11:30 a.m. – 10 p.m. F – Sat, 11:30 a.m. – 10:30 p.m. Sun, 11:30 a.m. – 9 p.m.
Three private dining spaces and chef’s tasting menusEdit Module