Beautiful, chic, Asian-inspired decor that coordinates with the top-drawer steak and sushi-inspired menu. That’s Roka Akor, 456 N. Clark St. Ended up going here for an event that didn’t take place and decided to sit down at the bar and take in the ambiance anyway. Loved the sexy, bluesy-jazz music emanating at just the right volume form a clearly quality sound system. Loved the rich texture of the checkerboard of shaved and shiny wooden shingles on the wall and the airy asymmetrical pattern of sturdy beams in the Asian-latticed ceilings. Lots of light from floor-to-ceiling windows. Subtle interior lighting that enhances the trendy-but-comfortable atmosphere.
Pat(rick) Henaghan, who’s not only manager but a master bartender himself, offered to make a sample of one of the cocktails he’d designed for the event that was postponed. Surprising, certainly, to see him putting deep-orangey-red ice cubes in a tall glass. Whoever heard of deep-red ice cubes? Well, Pat explained, these are made from a combination of strawberry and yuzu (Asian fruit) puree that freezes beautifully into a slow-melting ice-pop texture (Popsicle is the brand we adored when we were kids) and gives an amazing shot of color to the vodka/Seville sour orange cocktail he created. This one will be on the regular menu soon – a perfect drink for enjoying in the sun on Roka Akor’s patio.
On Pat’s recommendation, tried the vegetable tempura – a generous portion of lightly battered-and-fried slices of carrot, sweet potato, broccoli, zucchini and eggplant served with two amply filled dishes of sauces – one sweeter, one slightly more acidic – both low-sodium and both delicious with the perfectly cooked vegetables. Five- and six-dollar Happy Hour specials are available 5 to 6 pm on the patio and in the lounge; the rest of the Roka Akor menu cries out for further experimentation.