FOR NEARLY 10 YEARS, Roka Akor has brought its big-city approach to the North Shore—elevating palates with mouth-watering, modern Japanese fare meant to be shared (although not required).
Nestled in Westfield Old Orchard Shopping Center, this Skokie hotspot is one of three Chicago locations. The first opened in Chicago’s River North and the newest location is in Oak Brook’s Oakbrook Center—with nationwide fixtures in Houston, San Francisco, and Scottsdale.
The restaurant’s name was derived from two Japanese words: Ro and Ka. Ro means a gathering place where people come together to take in an ambiance and Ka means burning fire. Together, Roka, translates to “fire gathering” and Akor is just the inverse of its forename.
Japanese fishermen traditionally get together around a fire after returning from a trip, so patrons will understand the choice in name upon entrance to the dining area. Right away, Roka Akor’s signature 12-foot robata grill greets diners with a full view along with an open kitchen—luring you to gather around the heart and fire of the restaurant. The robata grill uses mesquite charcoal with flames reaching temperatures up to 1,900 degrees, filling the dining room with the savory aroma of zesty steaks and scrumptious seafood. The dining room features a timeless, yet comfortable, contemporary design— filled with earthy and natural elements finished off with bonsai trees and flowers. Meanwhile, the three-season patio offers plenty of modern, yet cozy outdoor seating.
Corporate Executive Chef Ce Bian serves meat lovers and pescatarians with lavish cuts of prime steak, rare Wagyu from Japan, grilled seafood, and innovative, signature maki rolls. Think Escolar tataki, grilled diver sea scallops, grilled fresh seafood, and prime steaks. Specialties include the Korean-spiced lamb chop with smoked eggplant and cucumber. There is also the Hamachi serrano chili signature maki roll.
Pair your shared dish with one of the decadent wines from the impressive wine list or top off your meal with a blood orange margarita with Pasote tequila, blood orange liqueur, blood orange bitters, and agave syrup. Feeling bold and spicy? Belly up at the bar with the Yotta Kosho, made with Hanson organic habanero vodka, sake, elderflower liqueur, lime, cucumber, ghost pepper, and shiso.
Private parties and catering are all available at the Old Orchard location. For parties of nine or more, business functions, or special occasions, the semi-private space is designed to accommodate a wide array of events like birthday parties or corporate events serving either off the lunch or dinner menus.
Thinking bigger? Roka Akor is also available for full or partial restaurant buyouts. Bringing Roka Akor into the home is easier than ever, too. Party-sized platters for carryout and delivery are available, with menu options that include premium sashimi, maki, and nigiri platters or skewed meats and savory vegetables. Reservations are recommended.
Roka Akor is located at 4999 Old Orchard Shopping Center in Skokie. For more information, call 847-329-7650 or visit rokaakor.com.