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Restaurants / Openings

Ambitious New Sushi and Steak Restaurant Makes a Dramatic Houston Debut

Should Kata Robata and Uchi be Worried?

BY // 06.27.17

A luxury high-rise building may not be a typical venue for a new Houston restaurant, but for upscale steak and sushi concept Roka Akor, 2929 Weslayan’s high-in-the-sky digs provided yet another angle for its posh Japanese concept to stand out amongst the competitive Houston dining scene.

After all, the Arizona-based restaurant brand teased Houstonians for more than a year before officially opening its doors on Monday. That type of waiting game demands not only stellar cuisine but also standout surrounds, and 2929’s tony ambience delivers.

“[We] selected the location because of its unique, yet simple design. The inspirational space is on brand with Roka Akor and our other locations [in Scottsdale, Chicago, and San Francisco],” JNK Concept’s (Roka Akor’s parent company) vice president of development Sunny Mehra tells PaperCity.

“It is centrally located with convenient access and parking for guests. The 2929 Weslayan residents are ideal guests for Roka Akor, and we look forward to hosting them.”

Traipse through Roka Akor’s entry — located on the ground floor of the high-rise — and you’re met with a sea of natural light ushered in by vast floor-to-ceiling windows.

Warm wood accents enhance the contemporary space, which is equipped with an expansive open kitchen, sleek private dining room, intimate sushi bar, and seating for more than 200 guests.

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It’s details like this that set the new restaurant apart from the niche group of restaurants opening in some of Houston’s most coveted sky palaces. Take chef Philippe Verpiand‘s Brasserie du Parc at downtown’s One Park Place, or Houston Astros owner Jim Crane’s Italian restaurant Potente in the 500 Crawford mid-rise.

Roka Houston’s not only the biggest restaurant in the high-rise pack. It’s also the only concept specializing in non-European cuisine.

On the menu? The best of Japan — premium seafood, ornate sushi, certified Japanese Wagyu, and an extensive sake program.

Roka Akor positions itself as a major contender in Houston’s sushi arms race — competing with local Japanese juggernauts such as Kata Robata, MF Sushi, and Uchi — with an exotic fresh fish selection sourced daily from Japan; impeccably plated sashimi and nigiri; and ornately adorned maki rolls.

Lookout for everything from tuna tataki and toro tartare accompanied by Osetra caviar to the soft shell crab kimchi roll and the crispy prawn and diced sashimi roll.

Also on hand: piscine plates including Chilean sea bass with roasted squash and peppercorn broth; yuzu and miso-marinated black cod with pickled red onion; and Alaskan king crab with chili lime butter.

While Roka Akor boasts accolades like getting named the “Best Sushi Restaurant in the U.S.”  byTravel + Leisure magazine and was voted one of bon appétit‘s  Top 10 Sushi Spots in the United States,” seafood isn”t the restaurant’s only claim to fame.

Guests can also indulge in some of the finest meat in the world as Roka Akor is one of only two Houston restaurants (and one of 17 in the country) touting authentic beef sourced from the Japanese-bred Tajima cows.

The highly coveted Japanese kobe is only delivered once a week, while the authentic Wagyu is available in Hokkaido, Miyazaki and Shiga selections. Snake River Farm’s premium cuts can also be seen on the menu.

roka-akor
Roka Akor’s prime filet is served with chili ginger sauce.

Pair your beef with a bevy of sides such as sweet corn with soy garlic butter; sweet potato with ginger teriyaki; grilled bone marrow topped with spicy sweet garlic soy; and a Japanese mushroom rice hot pot with shaved truffle.

Patrons can also partake in Roka Akor’s omakase menu selection, which entrusts the chef with the direction of your meal. The shareable experience is priced at $128 per person, and makes a great option for diners looking to sample a diverse selection of fare.

Pro Tip: If you’re searching for a new lunch destination, don’t miss Roka Akor’s Business Set Lunch. Priced at just $24, you’ll enjoy your choice of starter and entree — featuring everything from yellowtail sashimi to prime New York strip steak — accompanied by miso soup and steamed rice.

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