Do you know what makes a dreary, rainy evening amazing? Fantastic food! As the skies opened up on Friday evening and warnings of flash floods loomed, I completely forgot the weather and enjoyed a cheery repast at Roka Akor in Skokie, IL. Roka Akor offers contemporary Japanese cuisine, Robatayaki to be exact. Robata for short, is basically slow grilling over a fire and oh, so delicious! Everything I tried left me speechless.
To start, their Roasted Beet Salad with Jalapeno Miso Dressing and Smoked Almonds. I think beet salad is the cat’s pajamas and order it wherever I go. I hesitated with this one as I worried about the jalapeno…I wasn’t raised eating spicy, I get faint with one red pepper flake. I’m working on it. However, this salad had the flavor without the fire and those smoked almonds…can I take a jar of those home with me please?
Then there was the Sweet Corn and Edamame Dumplings with Soy Vinaigrette. Excellent! I appreciated their crisped bottoms, perfectly chewy. I’m not a fan of soggy dumplings, these were perfect and the vinaigrette…can I take a jar of that home with me please?
Then there were the Robata Grilled Diver Sea Scallops with Yuzu Aioli and Wasabi Peas. Large, plump scallops, perfectly grilled and dressed, light and not at all fishy.
For the main course, I had the Skuna Bay Salmon with Ginger Teriyaki and House Pickled Cucumbers and my handsome dinner companion had the Madagascan Jumbo Tiger Prawn with Yuzu Kosho Chili Paste. As for our sides, the Crispy Brussels Sprouts with Japanese Mustard Vinaigrette and Bonito Flakes and the Cremini Mushrooms with Soy Garlic Butter. We always share our main dishes, so lucky for me I always get to taste everything on the table. The prawn was detached from its shell and cut into perfectly grilled bites; the meat was wonderful. Just be sure you can take the heat! My salmon had that crispy, flavorful grill on top that I love and that ginger teriyaki, can I take a jar…! Those mushrooms were divine and we couldn’t stop nibbling the Brussels sprouts. If you aren’t a Brussels sprouts lover, that’s because you haven’t tried them at Roka Akor yet.
For dessert, we shared the Green Tea Custard with Caramelized Banana and Chocolate Pearls…天国! It was a very special dessert, light and not too sweet. Several delightful flavors and a perfectly whipped texture, the little chocolate pearls were fun to chew, too. I have been down on bananas lately. I’ve been eating them for breakfast my whole life, and they are getting to be a bore. As I dreamily enjoyed our dessert, I said, “If only my breakfast banana could taste like this.”
It was a wonderful dining experience and the service was very professional, attentive and timely. It is very evident that the staff works as a seamless team at this location, one plate dropped, another picked up, a menu offered, a glass cleared. We sat at a smaller table and never once had to worry about clutter, or wait for what we’d requested. 幻想的な Roka Akor Skokie! You’ve got the art of fine dining down!