Roka Bar


Bringing Japanese ethos to San Francisco nightlife is the ultra- chic downstairs bar of the illustrious Roka Akor. Like walking up into a starry night, Roka Bar offers city dwellers an elegant and unique experience all seven days of the week. Centered on concepts of Japanese ideology, the lounge’s contemporary design incorporates these ancient ideas into a sophisticated setting where people can gather, socialize, and unwind in its intimate ambience. Whether seated at the bar or in one of the many relaxing lounge sofas, you will find yourself having a cock- tail with a wide variety of the city’s finest; from financial bankers to tech coders, old friends to new friends, and even couples on their first date. Derived from the words “Ro” and “Ka”, meaning “gathering place” and “projected energy”, the lounge’s radiant atmosphere certainly lives up to its name.

Roka’s executive chef Roman Petry worked hand in hand alongside local architect Anthony Fish in creating the intricate design of the space. Having spent much of his time in Tokyo, Petry’s idea was to be able to integrate Japan’s cultural beliefs into a space where people can feel both inspired and comfort- able. Built out of all natural materials from local sources, both the dining room and lounge were constructed in respect for nature and preserving its natural state. The lounge’s design is centered on the island bar which spreads a naturally vibrant energy throughout the room. Built out of a fallen Claro Walnut tree that rested in field of blackberries for over a decade, the bar’s gorgeously textured wood surface displays a slight hue of purple from its former home. Inspired by traditional Tokyo-style dens, the back of the bar features an intimate seating area where guests can enjoy cocktails, food, and friendly interactions with their bartenders.


If these walls could talk…well, these do just that. Along the far wall of the lounge is a masterpiece by notable designer Matsys, whose works have been featured in SF MoMA. Constructed out of bamboo wood, one slice is a cutout of the topographic outline of San Francisco, and the other dozens of slices flow naturally away on each side like a wave of the city’s contour. No matter where you sit in the room, the formations of bamboo wood are alive at every angle, giving the wall a sense of dynamic move- ment. The remaining walls were hand-crafted in the lounge by another local designer from a mixture of red clay soil, hay, rice husks, and glistening specks of mica. And instead of simply lin- ing these walls with flashy décor, wooden shelves made from the same Claro Walnut tree showcase stunning glass jars of their homemade infusions of blood orange, raspberry, mango and chili, and honeycomb.

And also stirring up the scene is the team of highly talented bartenders serving up an elaborate list of wine, sake, Japanese beers, and specialty cocktails. The bar also offers an eclectic collection of shochu infusions, which originated as an ancient medical tonic. And if you’re feeling a bit peckish, you can order from a delicious bar menu of various snacks, maki rolls, and robata-style faire. With all of the right elements of a truly invigorating evening, a visit to Roka Bar is exactly the kind of R&R that is a perfect finish to a hard-working week in the office.

Text and photography by Julie albin