For Christmas last year, like ever year, we asked my brothers to get Celeste and I a couple gift cards to restaurants we’ve been meaning to try. This time around they got us gift cards to Lillie’s Q, a BBQ restaurant in Chicago, and Roka Akor, a seafood, steak, and sushi restaurant in Skokie’s Old Orchard shopping center. There’s also a Roka Akor in Chicago, but since we live 5 minutes from Old Orchard, it didn’t make sense to drive all the way into the city… although, looking back on it, maybe we would have had a better experience if we went into the city.

Obviously Roka Akor wasn’t my choice, as I’m not a huge steak, seafood, or sushi person, but Celeste really wanted to try it; and with a gift card it didn’t really matter if I liked it or not, it was a free meal.

We made a reservation for 7PM this past Sunday and arrived to a mostly empty restaurant. It’s not a large space, so the fact that it was pretty empty was a bit surprising to both of us. We were promptly seated at a nice large table for 4, even though there were only 2 of us. The intimate atmosphere of the restaurant was very inviting, and I liked the overall feel of everything. The kitchen is very open to the public eye, which I like cause it forces the kitchen to be super clean… not that a place like Roka Akor would have a dirty kitchen. Atmosphere aside, it did seem like they were overstaffed in some areas and understaffed in others. Some of the tips on Foursquare mentioned that they were super overstaffed, which it definitely seemed like in the kitchen/runner area, but it appeared as though there was only one (maybe two) servers for the entire restaurant. And while it wasn’t that crowded, our waitress did seem a bit flustered and all over the place (which is why I’m not sure the other guy was a server, and was rather just a runner).

I will so though, despite our waitress being a bit flustered, she was very friendly. She took our drink orders right away, but it took a long time for those drinks to actually arrive at the table. And even though I asked if they had captain morgan, and she wasn’t 100% sure, but said she’d check, I’m not sure my drink was actually made with captain morgan. It wasn’t normal rum, which I could tell, so it could have either been an inexperienced bartender who doesn’t know how to make a captain and coke, bad coke, or some other spiced rum. In the waitresses defense, I did mention that if they had other spiced rum that might be ok, but I figured she’d mention if they didn’t have captain, either when she brought the drink, or before they made it, but she didn’t. It tasted fine, and I didn’t complain about the drink, but something was a bit off with it. But no worries there, I’d absolutely go back to grab a drink… and we’ll probably have to since we have $20 left on the gift card.

Food Was ‘Meh’

As far as the food goes, I was definitely disappointed. We started off with the Sweet Corn Edamame, which is a dumpling containing, you guessed it, sweet corn and edamame. I’d have to say, this was actually the best thing I ate that night… even better than my entree. I like edamame and I like sweet corn, so it was pretty hard to mess this one up. Celeste got the Mebachi Big Eye Tuna sashimi sushi and the Scallops with Housemade XO Aioli and Ponzu Butter. I tried a piece of the tuna, but sashimi isn’t my thing at all, so I didn’t care for it. But that’s not to say it wasn’t good, because she seemed to enjoy both the scallops and the sashimi. As far as my entree goes, I figured since Roka Akor is labeled as a steak restaurant, as well as a seafood/sushi one, I would get a steak. There were a couple different options for steaks on the menu, but I tend to lean towards the filet in most cases. Apparently Roka Akor is the only place (or one of the only places) in the United States that is actually allowed to import A5-9 Japanese Wagyu from Japan. And I have read, that places that advertise as having Wagyu beef in the United States are usually lying, or it’s not authentic Japanese Waygu. I don’t really know anything about it, but at $32 and oz… I wasn’t about to find out what makes it so special, so I went with the normal filet – Medium.

I usually get my meat cooked medium-well, but since this place claimed it was a steak place, I decided to go medium. I’m not a big fan of medium-rare, even though my parents swear by it, so I figured medium was a nice compromise. When the steak came out it was extremely medium-rare. I was actually surprised the inside was even warm at all when I felt it. Now, I’m not one to send food back to the kitchen, but even Celeste told me I should send it back. In fact, the waitress even came over and agreed with me that it was medium-rare and not medium. So they took it back and re-fired it to get it closer to medium, but when it came back out it was definitely medium-well, which is totally fine with me because that’s how I normally order burgers and stuff, but with a nicer steak I like to go the medium route. In the end, even with it cooked the way I normally like my meat, it wasn’t that great… definitely not worth $32 for 8 oz. in my opinion. And sorry I didn’t take any pictures of the food… it wasn’t worth it in my opinion. So instead enjoy the picture of 1/4 of the kitchen staff.

So would I go back to Roka Akor for dinner… probably not. We’ll definitely go back for drinks at the bar to use up the remainder of the gift card we have, but I would not go back to eat anything other than the Sweet Corn Edamame appetizer. Now this isn’t to say you shouldn’t try it if you like seafood or sushi, because Celeste enjoyed her food, I was just super disappointed with the steak and the looks I was getting from the kitchen when I sent back the undercooked food.

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