Leave It Up To The Chef (and the Bartender) at Roka Akor San Francisco

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Roka Bar
Roka Bar

Photo Credit: Chris Martinez

Delivering both style and substance, Roka Akor San Francisco at 801 Montgomery Street is known for its Japanese flair and cuisine—specifically the signature omakase tasting menu option. Guests who choose the omakase place themselves in the capable and creative hands of executive chef Roman Petry, who stuns diners with the artistry of his delicious cuisine.

Leaving it up to chef Petry ensures that you’ll enjoy course after course of any combination of prime cuts of steaks, seafood, and vegetables with unique Japanese-inspired marinades and sauces, along with sushi, sashimi, tempura, and extraordinary desserts. Each presentation is a work of art: an abundant sashimi selection painted with gold leaf floating atop a bed of colored ice-caps and sea shells. Tuna and beef tataki, a line-up of premium nigiri, grilled scallops, a plate of tender wagyu beef, and then there’s dessert, served in a large bowl and featuring their warm Valhrona chocolate cake with almond caramel and vanilla ice cream, rhubarb and lemon tart,  and other various Hojicha ice creams, all topped off with chocolate truffles. Bring your appetite.

The deluxe sashimi platter at Roka Akor
The deluxe sashimi platter at Roka Akor

Photo Credit: Chris Martinez

But chef Petry is not the only one at Roka Akor who personally selects for his guests what they will enjoy on any given night. Roka Akor’s bartenders Alex Riddle and Allen Zhang have also recently joined the omakase action with their Roka Bar offering of a ‘cocktail omakase.’ Each omakase features five to seven alcoholic drinks varying in size, incorporating local spirits and seasonal ingredients. Only five reservations are taken nightly (at 7:30pm) for the experience—the theme of which changes frequently. The first theme, for instance, highlights the five traditional elements in Japanese philosophy: Earth, Air, Fire, Water, and Void.

The 90-minute cocktail extravaganza begins with a seating at the Roka Bar chef’s counter—an intimate and exclusive space. A barrel-sized, lighted, and ice-filled container highlights all of the spirits used that evening—a similar presentation to Roka Akor’s signature sashimi platters. Riddle and Zhang explain each drink as it relates to the five elements and the beverages literally embodies its particular element. The “fire” cocktail burns green tea smoke and the flames caramelize the absinthe sugar. The “water” cocktail is an ocean-like aperitif with kombu seaweed that provides a salty flavor. A thoughtfully executed Chinese-style tea service is presented mid-way through the tasting, cleansing the palette and providing time to order some food items.

The water cocktail
The “water” cocktail

Photo Credit: Chris Martinez

The last cocktail, “Void,” meaning a “state of transition” reflects the shift in gears. Using butterfly pea flower tea, Riddle and Zhang utilize ice blocks with orange and yuzu juices to change the color of the cocktail from purple to violet –  lighted glassware illuminates the metamorphosis. Voted one of the top ten sushi spots in the US by readers of Bon Appétit magazine, Roka Akor and the downstairs Roka Bar radiate an elegant and sultry vibe that is punctuated by rich wood décor and sleek lighting. The front and center robata grill provides nearly every table with the best seats in the house, where Chef Petry’s omakase selections are the stars of the show. And now, the downstairs Roka Bar is your theatre as well.

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