Hotel / Catering

Universally appetising

by Rachel Sproston

Marc Bratland, managing director, Roka
Photo: Edde Ngan

Casual dining restaurant brings heat to Hong Kong

The regional hospitality industry is currently booming and ever-larger numbers of quality professionals are benefiting from the unprecedented opportunities linked to the rapid growth of the industry.

Traditionally, securing a post with a renowned hotel chain was considered the ultimate goal for hospitality professionals. However, in the domain of professional development, Roka, a new restaurant in Hong Kong is set to offer excellent career opportunities.

"Our aim is to provide a professional platform for staff to maximise their potential," says Marc Bratland, managing director, Roka. "The unique Roka dining concept has proved tremendously successful in London, recently expanded to Macau and Scottsdale (Arizona) and will soon be launched in Pacific Place this summer. Staff who come on board will profit from the opportunity to work with an exciting and unique concept in the 6,000 square foot contemporary Japanese restaurant."

The restaurant's name stems from two words — Robata (RO): a traditional informal venue where Japanese people from all walks of life meet to eat and drink; and (KA) which symbolises a burning fire, heat and energy, forming an all-inclusive social warmth. Indeed, Roka's menu is structured in such a way to encourage sharing, and dishes are brought to the table steadily and continuously throughout the meal.

Social diversity

According to Mr Bratland, the restaurant will focus on creating an environment where everyone from businessmen to the casual diners feels comfortable. Pacific Place was specifically chosen as the venue because it attracts such cultural and social diversity. "Everyone wants a place to unwind, somewhere they can truly relax and have a good time with colleagues, family and friends. Roka aims to provide that backdrop and our emphasis is on providing quality and value in a sociable environment," he adds.

At the centre of the restaurant is Robata, an open charcoal grill that forms the focal point for diners and is the heart of the Roka concept. "The interior is designed by Noriyoshi Muramatsu from the Japanese design firm Studio Glitt, who has been involved with Roka since the original Roka in London. Wood, iron, glass and earth are the main structural materials used creating a natural, yet clean and modern lines," says

Mr Bratland. A variety of comfortable seating options create a cosy and warm environment.

He emphasises that Roka's dishes are "authentic but not traditional", and its menu stretches beyond sushi, sashimi and tempura. Quality meats and poultry, in addition to fresh seafood and seasonal vegetables, will be prepared over the Robata charcoal grill. To complement the warmth of the grill fare, a variety of market-fresh sashimi and maki sushi rolls will be on offer. For guests with a sweet tooth, unique house-made desserts will also feature alongside a selection of Japanese herbal teas.

"The 500-bottle cellar will offer a good selection of wines from all over the world," notes Mr Bratland. "All staff will be able to recommend specific wines which bring out the full flavour of individual dishes," he adds. Wines are served by the bottle or by the glass. A variety of regional sakes from Japan will add depth to the dining experience. Meanwhile, the ancient Japanese spirit shochu, which is distilled from a variety of grains such as barley, sweet potato or rice, will form the base of Roka's signature shochu tonics and seasonally infused shochus.

Adept and approachable

To guarantee the authenticity of such a specific dining concept, Roka is looking for individuals who release warmth, energy and friendliness but who also provide consistent levels of service delivery.

A range of signature cocktails and shochu tonics available at Roka embrace the Japanese culture so bar staff receive comprehensive training to ensure they are adept at creating great cocktails using only the freshest tropical fruits and premium brand spirits.

Staff will work alongside culinary professionals who are already recognised experts in their field. "Roka's aim is to add value to the dining experience for guests. By that we mean diners leave the table with the feeling they received more than they originally anticipated," Mr Bratland says. From a human resources perspective, the same concept is true, "We encourage staff to leverage the professional platform we provide and in return we want them to add value to Roka as a whole," he concludes.


Taken from Career Times 25 April 2008
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