Taste the New Omakase Cocktails at San Francisco’s Roka Bar

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A carefully crafted drink menu honors Japan’s most popular festivals

The cocktails are the focus of this omakase, with food paired to match.

San Francisco’s Roka Akor, the Japanese steak and seafood restaurant, has a new menu this season for its cocktail omakase. The Japanese term omakase translates to “I’ll leave it up to you,” so leave it up to the cocktail experts to spoil you with a perfect beverage pairing.

The cocktail offerings are based on the traditional Japanese festivals from the Great Japan Beer Festival to the Yamayaki festival to the Sakura Festival. Alex Riddle, lead bartender, says the inspiration for the new theme was a team effort by the staff bartenders and barbacks.

“Everybody brought two ideas for a new theme, and then voted for their favorites,” Riddle says. “The Japanese festivals offered the greatest inspiration for our creativity and also tied in best to Roka Akor’s identity in serving and paying homage to Japanese cuisine.”

One cocktail from the new omakase honors the Yuki Matsuri, the Snow Festival. This cocktail infusion brings together lemon and basil Japanese shaved ice, a gin-based sorbet, and heirloom melon-infused shochu. Riddle also included a refreshing beer-inspired cocktail to represent the Great Japan Beer Festival, which attracts thousands of beer-lovers to enjoy a day of drinking different kinds of beer.

“We drew inspiration from the Great Japan Beer Festival by achieving the essence of what it feels like to drink beer – such as the bitterness and the hops – without actually drinking beer,” Riddle says. “We even created Japanese IPA foam to add a beer-like texture so it looks like a beer.”

This offering is a fantastic way to get in touch with Japanese culture while remaining in the comfort of San Francisco. Riddle and the team did an exceptional job of pairing the flavors with the variety of food, while also sharing a historical and cultural perspective.

Each omakase will offer between five to seven alcoholic drinks along with a Chinese-style tea service served halfway through the tasting. The cocktail omakase is priced at $55 per person, and the food pairing is priced at $55 per person, not including tax and gratuity.

Roka Akor’s 90-minute cocktail omakase is available Thursday through Saturday evenings starting at 7:30 p.m. Reservations are limited to five seats per evening and can be made through Resy.com. (Reservations must be paid for when they’re made, but there is a 24-hour cancellation policy.) Guests will be seated in a designated section at the bar counter.

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Roka Akor provides an unparalleled experience of sleek design and contemporary Robata Japanese cuisine to the U.S. The restaurant’s name stemmed from two words: RO and KA. “RO” translates to hearth, a gathering place where people socialize and take in the ambience; “KA” stands for a burning fire and projecting energy.