It's not everyday that those of us living in Hooville eat at a Bon Appetit rated, top 10 sushi spot in the United States and such an occasion was treated with the appropriate primping and coiffing as would warrant on such an occasion.
Me in my evening black and Mr. Hubby in his somber suit. We were ready to embrace an evening of sushi & sashimi delights and were heady with excitement (sans kids who were safely perched with the baby sitter watching The Incredibles for the 100th time) We are after all true and blue sushi buffs.
Mr. Hubby who speaks Japanese as fluently a babe talks baby talk is always at home in the land of raw fish and sake. If there was ever a couple who could 'pig-out' on the stuff, it's us!
As we enter the restaurant, we take in the modern minimalist surroundings and the smooth glistening gnarly wood sushi bar is a delight. It is impossible to not skim ones fingers on the surface just for the delight of the experience. The open kitchen sits beyond.
As we are seated to the table, I enjoy the plush beautiful leather chairs as opposed to the hard wooden chairs that often cause an ache in my backside from prolonged seating. Too much information? Maybe, but I tend to notice this stuff .
Our waiter whose name I later learned to be Wesley walks over to the table and after the customary small talk, leaps into the intricacies of the menu. Spurred on by our obvious interest and delight in their signature creations, he opens up and takes us under his wings.
So thoroughly impressed am I by his knowledge and attention to detail that I immediately remark to Mr. Hubby "What excellent training they must provide here". We all know that the reputation of a good restaurant does not necessarily translate into great service and just because the figures in right hand column is high enough to give one a double take, it does not necessarily ensue that good service follows.
It was the way Wesley wove the sense of knowledge and care that we uncharacteristically decided to taken him up on ALL of his recommendations for the evening.
Once we placed our order I was thrilled by an introduction to the Executive Chef, Ce Bian & a tour of their kitchen. It was a treat to see the preparation of the dishes in the kitchen to later see them arrive plated at out table.
The chef creating the sushi and sashimi platter for our table. I quickly return to the table as the first of our order makes an appearance on our table. Mr. Hubby left alone to sip his sake patiently awaits my return.
Robata-Grilled Scallops with Shiso and Wasabi
Cremini Mushrooms with Garlic & Butter
A robata grilled skewer specialty the earthy flavor of the creminis pair perfectly with the garlic and chili mayonnaise topping.
With the sushi-sashimi platter arrives fresh Wasabi root, freshly grated on a shark skin lined wooden grater.
Salmon -SakeBig Eye Tuna - Mebachi Maguro
The salmon is characterized by a sesame oil glaze and a final touch with the blow torch. It goes without saying that the fish was practically swimming with freshness.
ROKA AKOR Butterfish Tataki with White Asparagus and Yuzu
Wagyu Gunkan - Wagyu Sushi with Wasabi, Ponzu and Ginger
These are 2 specialty creations of the restaurant and were preceded by well deserved accolades from server, Wesley. These are undoubtedly not to be missed.
It is impossible to describe the delicacy of both these appetizers. The butter soft texture of the fish with the scent of yuzu (japanese lime) & the crisp asparagus enveloped within teases the senses.
The wagyu beef, incredibly tender and succulent with a kick from the wasabi and ginger nestled in the sweet ponzu (soy) sauce is both refreshing as it is surprising.
ROKA AKOR Yuzu Miso-Marinated Black Cod with Pickled Red Onion
The final pièce de résistance! If you're only going to eat one thing in this place, this should be it!
This Robata grilled cod is so succulent that chopsticks can barely hold on to this incredibly delicate creation. The miso & honey sweet sauce pairs perfectly with the fish. The pickled onions though not my favorite accompaniment adds a visual element.
I cannot emphasize how gracious Executive Chef Ce Bian was. He exuded a genuine warmth in showing me his domain despite the evening rush hour. Neither did he show any signs of stress as he quietly commandeered his troops through the evening rush hour meal.
An obvious master of his craft, Chef Ce Bian gave his personal final touch to every plate as it left for the tables. I thank him for his hospitality.
7299 North Scottsdale Road - Scottsdale, Arizona 85253
~ Other locations ~
London & Hong Kong
Contemporary Japanese & sushi restaurant
Expensive - Expect to pay approx $60-80/person not including alcohol
Dress - Smart Casual