Ramen Meets Mixology at New Uptown Hot Spot ROKC

Ramen Meets Mixology at New Uptown Hot Spot ROKC

 

ROKC Entrance (Courtesy of ROKC)


 

I’m a HUGE ramen fan—its layers of flavor and casual messy goodness makes it my perfect comfort food. But I never thought of ramen as bar food until now. Cocktail bar/ramen restaurant ROKC (ramen, oysters, kitchen, and cocktails) in Hamilton Heights, Manhattan serves ramen surrounded by a speakeasy feel at its dimly-lit, basement level location.

 

With no obvious signage, ROKC is quite easy to miss. The interior decor is equally minimalist and industrial—mixed metal bar tools against distressed concrete walls displaying more Japanese whiskeys than I knew existed, assorted bitters, and corked glass beakers full of colorful infusions (tools of alchemy more than mixology). The 35-seat restaurant doesn’t take reservations and refuses to even have a phone number—they don't need one—a long queue of ramen worshipers and cocktail connoisseurs are at their gates every night by seven o'clock.

 

Under the helm of proprietor Shige Kabashima, its innovative 40-drink cocktail menu made Esquire magazine’s list of “Best Bars in America 2017.” Kabashima brings a whimsical touch to his cocktailing, serving drinks in exotic vessels like ceramic skulls with burning palomino wood (pictured below), hollowed-out bell peppers (yes, seriously), inside upside down light bulbs and conch shells (pictured below), and a showstopper cocktail called ‘smoke’ made of bourbon, ancho chile, and Cynar is delivered hot-boxed under a cloche. Consider yourself warned: These well-balanced cocktails are addictive and deceivingly strong; I walked out after my first visit barely remembering my own name, but with a smile on my face.

 

ROKC Cocktails (©The Infatuation)

ROKC’s ramen menu offers six flavor profiles that will take you on a trip through Japan by experiencing the local flavors of each region complemented by fish, chicken, or vegetarian broth options. Along with classic ramen flavors, it offers seasonal ramen that celebrates the changing of the weather. Now if the generous ramen bowls don’t fill you up, there is also an á la carte menu that has been given the same level of finesse—fresh east coast oysters (which are $1.50 for happy hour every day until 7 pm); ‘melty pork buns’ that live up to its name—a steamed bun with sliced pork belly cooked to perfection; as well as yuzu edamame and more.

ROKC hasn’t forgotten about the cocktail classics and you won’t find a better Sazerac or Old-Fashioned uptown, but if you’re feeling more adventurous it will introduce you to cocktail combinations that are truly unexpected. So if you find yourself above west 125th street and want an affordable and unforgettable dining experience, head to ROKC. Hours are M-Th 5 pm-12 am, F 5 pm-1 am, Sa 2 pm-1 am, and Su 2 pm-12 am.

 

>>ROKC, 3452 Broadway, No phone number

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