Roka Hula

Awesome! It’s a word I don’t think I’ve used in more than 1000 reviews, but Roka Hula exceeds all expectations. Visiting on their second night of business we encountered near perfection.

I had assumed this would be an experience aimed at the tourist and convention business, like its associated restaurant Voodo Bayou (you check in at their reception desk), which is good, but not earthshaking. But Roka Hula is not just an experience, but also an amazing cocktail/tiki bar and a superb sushi restaurant.

The first thing you notice, as with any Tiki bar, is the ambiance. From the creative entry (I won’t spoil the experience) to the overall decor and vibe, this is a great space–calming, mysterious, and exciting all at once.

The cocktail menu is expansive, and the three drinks I tried were all home runs. The gin and ginger Psycho Starlett and the complex and tart Saigon Suzy both went well with the sushi. And the Banana Old Fashioned (a complex mix of rums and a brulee’d banana syrup) is possibly my favorite cocktail of all time, a great way to end the meal.

As expected with a Tiki bar, the wine list is very limited, but contains four interesting selections.

The other star here is the sushi. I wasn’t expecting much, because food at a tiki bar is usually an afterthought, or cliched. But this place is serving some of the best quality fish in town, and some of the most creative sushi.

The Hamachi Tiradito and Salmon Sashimi were both excellent starters. While not inexpensive, the portions and quality justified the cost. 

Smoky Spicy Tuna Roll was one of the most creative sushi dishes I’ve had. Sure, we’ve all had dishes served under a smoked dome, but the hickory and apple smoke here was a whole other level.

The Buffalo Beef on Weck Roll was also really creative, with tenderloin wrapped in carpaccio and coated in caraway seeds.

Service provided by Thyas and the accompanying staff was perfect.

I am not often this surprised by a restaurant, especially in a tourist area, but Roak Hula blew me away.