Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Takeout from Roka Akor

I've had my eye on Roka Akor since the moment I heard they were opening a restaurant in San Francisco.  Roka Akor offers Japanese cuisine, including sushi, steak, and robata grilled items.  Their other outposts have great reviews, and the SF location isn't too far from my house.  High end sushi and Japanese cuisine, nearby?  It sounded too good to be true!

But alas, somehow they had been open a full year, and I never quite found the opportunity to visit.  Until one day, when I was in charge of ordering dinner for a group at work.  If you've followed my blog, you know that I'm not exactly the type to be satisfied with cold, soggy pizza delivery.  Whenever I'm tasked with figuring out dinner, I get creative.  And, it has generally been very successful!

I knew that Roka is a nice place, not exactly somewhere you get takeout, let alone delivery, from.  And obviously takeout steak or robata grilled items wouldn't work.  But sushi?  It wouldn't suffer from the common takeout problem of getting cold.  And I knew that Roka would have higher quality sushi than anywhere else I could possibly get takeout from.  So, I went for it.

I contacted the restaurant in advance to make a takeout order, since it isn't something that they really do much of, and I wanted to make sure it would work.  I was beyond impressed with the response.  Not only could I order takeout, but they even offered to deliver it.  Now, not only was I getting high end sushi not at a restaurant, I was getting it delivered?

Mind blown.  I continued to be impressed once I opened our bags of food, due to their incredible packaging (more on that below) and accessories.  My satisfaction continued as we dug into the food.  Since it was take out, we stuck with cold dishes - a few tataki appetizers, along with standard rolls and nigiri.  The tataki stole the show, but the nigiri was impressively fresh.  I assure you, this is the best sushi you can possible get delivered in the city.

I can't wait to visit the actual restaurant sometime soon, to try some of their cooked offerings.  And if I ever want takeout sushi again, I will most certainly get it from Roka Akor!
All packaged up and labelled!
First, I have to give a major shout out to the amazing packaging, everything was clearly labelled in boxes.  And somehow, I honestly don't understand how, nothing was jumbled up.  Out of all of our sushi, only one piece even fell over inside the box!  How on earth did she transport this so well?
Included dishware.
I also have to give a shout out to the dishware.  Rather than standard paper plates, we were instead provided with cute little disposable wooden dishware, like you'd find at a catered event.

There was also an individual container of soy sauce for each of us, to pour into the provided soy sauce dipping trays.  Such a nice touch.
Butterfish Tataki with White Asparagus and Yuzu. $13.50.
We started with the butterfish tataki appetizer.  Each order contained six slices of butterfish, wrapped around white asparagus.  There was a yuzu dressing provided in a separate, labelled container, for us to drizzle over it.

I was really impressed with the plating here, even for takeout.  How did each slice of fish stay so perfectly wrapped around the asparagus?  And even the tiny micro greens as garnish were not out of place!

The butterfish was incredibly fresh, and I appreciated that the sauce was on the side, so it didn't soak in or otherwise make the fish soggy.  This was a very light dish, smooth, not too buttery, delicate.  I loved the crunch from the white asparagus, which I think was lightly poached, as it didn't seem quite raw, but was still satisfyingly crispy.

A single order was 6 slices, for $13.50.  Price seemed right.  My 4th pick of the night, but I'd still happily eat it again.
Tuna Tataki with Chili Ponzu, Red Onion and Lotus Root Chips.  $17.
The second appetizer we ordered was the tuna tataki.  Each order was six slices of barely seared tuna, rolled up around some greens, served over a bed of pickled onions, garnished with lotus root chips, with chili ponzu sauce on the side.

Again, I was impressed that the fish stayed rolled up, and appreciated the sauce on the side.

This was insanely delicious.  The flavor of the tuna was incredible.  The pickled onions added a bit of tartness and another flavorful component.  But speaking of flavor, the chili ponzu sauce was amazing.  I'd love to drizzle it on more things!  I also really liked the crunch from the lotus root chips, but then again, when does adding a fried bit lead you astray?

Hands down, my top pick of the night.  Most others agreed that it was their second favorite.  I would order again in a heartbeat.

Six slices of tuna were $17, which seems a bit high, but honestly, it was so good I didn't care.
Uni nigiri ($5 each). Salmon nigiri ($3.75 each).
Next, we moved on to nigiri.  Since there were only 5 of us, I asked for 2.5 orders of each of the nigiri, one for each of us, since nigiri normally comes in pairs.  They easily accommodated this request too.  The one piece of uni nigiri here was the only thing in our entire order that toppled over!

Wasabi and ginger were included in the box, and extra wasabi and ginger were also provided in another container, a nice touch, since we did need to split it 5 ways.  Multiple people commented on how good the wasabi was, clearly fresh wasabi.

The salmon was very good, silky smooth.  3 people said it was their top pick of the night, for me it was second, behind the tuna tataki.  I'd certainly get again.

The uni was creamy, with a deep flavor.  It didn't didn't have any "funk" that uni can sometimes have.  Clearly very fresh.  One person had never had uni before, so this was quite a treat.  My third pick of the night.

The salmon was $3.75 per piece, the uni $5.  Both prices seemed on point for high quality, fresh nigiri.
Hamachi Serrano Chili Roll. $12 each.
Next, we moved on to rolls.

As I said above, I was really impressed with how well everything transported, but this one really amazed me.  Each piece was still standing upright, with the dollop of cream on top, and a slice of chili still perfectly perched on top!

Inside the roll was hamachi and avocado, topped with a dollop of some sort of crema, and a slice of serrano chili.

Unfortunately, I'm allergic to avocado, and didn't expect this roll to contain any since I'd mentioned my allergy, and it wasn't listed in the description.  I poked the avocado out of one slice to try it, but very quickly started reacting, so I didn't try another.  The bite I did have was good though, and I like the sophisticated play on a spicy hamachi roll, using real chili, and the cream on top for the creaminess, rather than covering the fish itself in mayo.

My 5th pick of the night, and I'd love to try it without avocado sometime.

Each roll was 8 pieces, $12 each, which seemed fine.  This box contained two orders.
Tuna Roll with Green Chili Aioli. $9.50.
The final roll we got was a tuna roll, the most basic item in our order.  Just tuna with a bit of creamy aioli in it.  I didn't taste the green chili.

This was my least favorite, and I wouldn't get it again, but one other person said he really enjoyed it.  Overall, we all agreed that the rolls were the weakest part of the meal.  Still good, and far better than any other takeout sushi you'll ever find, but not a highlight.  In the future, I'd probably go for more cold apps and nigiri.

Each roll was again 8 slices, $9.50 each, which was a good price.
My first plate full!
Since we didn't have an even distribution of everything, we all got a plate full to start, and then fought over the remainders.  You can be sure that I won the "fight" for the tuna :)
Roka Akor on Urbanspoon
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