A new eating sensation imported directly from one of the best contemporary Japanese Robatayaki restaurants in London is taking Macau's eating experience to another level.
Roka, a brand new restaurant in Macau, focuses on an important and exciting aspect of Japanese cuisine beyond sashimi, sushi and tempura. The key feature is the Robata Grill — the heart of the Roka concept, and a focal point of the design aspect.
The idea behind Roka is to create a casual, informal and sociable dining atmosphere with energy and buzz. Firstly, the restaurant's name Roka is the acronym of two words: Robata (RO), which is a place where people get together to enjoy a meal in a sociable atmosphere; and KA, which stands for a burning fire, heat and warmth projecting energy and creating a welcoming social buzz.
The name belongs to an exquisite restaurant located in the heart of London along with its sister establishment, Zuma. Both restaurants are designed by Noriyoshi Muramatsu from Japanese design firm Studio Glitt in collaboration with Super Potato of Tokyo, and have simple yet sophisticated interiors incorporating natural materials such as wood, stone, glass, and earth that create a sense of originality.
Roka holds a reputation as being one of the top award-winning restaurants in the UK. Charles Campion from The Rough Guide to London Restaurants describes Roka's food as "original and elegant". Marc Bratland, managing director of Roka and Zuma, adds: "Although you will see Roka under Japanese dining in the guidebooks, our restaurant really operates beyond this classification."
Roka Macau is an opportunity for the restaurant group to spread its reputation internationally. Located at the high rollers' end of the main casino floor at the new Venetian Macau Resort and Casino on the Cotai Strip, Roka will attract a range of people who are familiar with the Zuma group's international reputation and distinctive interior design. It also has the added benefit of receiving customers from the Venetian's multifaceted business.
Roka's natural and timeless interior design, Mr Bratland adds, sets the scene for a unique dining experience where people can enjoy a meal with quality ingredients and presented in a way that's meant to be shared. It's all about enjoying the moment with family, friends, and clients alike. "Our concept allows flexibility for people to dine in a casual fashion in a vibrant atmosphere. We also hope to be the venue for entertaining at the same time with our commitment to service excellence," he says.
What distinguishes the restaurant is the amount of thought and creativity that goes into every single aspect of the restaurant, not just the cuisine alone. "For example, our crockery is uniquely designed by a Japanese artist in line with the Roka concept," says Mr Bratland.
Part of Roka's culture is to "drive to achieve quality," with the desire to exceed client expectations. "It's not easy to do this but our key people have previous experience in our restaurants and this shortens the learning curve," he adds.
Motivation and staff morale are important aspects of the business and management ensures that it supplies the staff with superior ingredients, plus an outstanding work environment.
"Staff have the opportunity to work with quality products and we believe that this is one of the elements that potential candidates look for in a company," Mr Bratland notes. "We value the expertise of each individual and their ability to work as a team has made Roka what it is today."
A quality restaurant requires quality people so Mr Bratland is also looking for professionals in Hong Kong to take on the role of managers and supervisors in both the service and culinary teams. Currently Roka has drafted staff from the London operation to assist in getting the Macau restaurant up and running — particularly from the culinary standpoint in order to ensure product consistency. "Both our general manager and executive chef have worked at Roka London in order to prepare for the opening of Roka Macau and preserve the integrity of our key concept," Mr Bratland explains.
With the exception of senior positions requiring specific qualifications, importance is placed on individuals who are passionate about serving others. "We want staff who enjoy working with people and can support Roka's concept of serving a high quality product in a very professional manner, while being placed in a casual and friendly atmosphere," says Mr Bratland. In addition they are looking for professionals who are open-minded and can visualise themselves being part of the Roka family.
Roka's people philosophy is to promote from within and the restaurant allows plenty of room so individuals can express and enjoy themselves, and in the future take on new challenges and responsibilities as the company grows. "We put a lot of effort into training individuals who will take the business further," Mr Bratland concludes.