ROK Eatery in St. Paul: Part Nordic, Part Japanese, All Awesome.

rok eatery

We recently ate at ROK Eatery in St. Paul – a very cool Nordic Yakitori restaurant in the West 7th Neighborhood. Read on for our first impressions, must eats, and other helpful tips and tricks to know before you go!

May 2023 Update: About a week after we published this review, ROK announced that they were ditching the Nordic & Japanese concept and turning into a taco bar. Go figure.

So, while the info below is now totally outdated (despite being less than a month old), keep in mind that the new “ROK Bar + Tacos” is still ran by the same chef. So, despite the unexpected 180, all the stuff below can still give you an idea about what St. Paul’s newest concept is capable of!

Back to the April 2023 “outdated” review…

DiscoverTheCities.com “Must Eats” at ROK

The menu changes by the season (and often, by the day!) so no promises that these will be there on your visit. But if they are, lucky you!

  • Salmon Smorrebrod
  • Nordic Burger
  • Karaage

About Rok

Rok Eatery comes to us courtesy of Chef Adam Prince. He was the previous head chef of W.A. Frost, and recently, had been doing various Japanese style popups at the nearby Keg and Case Market.

When the old Rose Street Pattisserie closed in the Schmidt Rathskeller building across the street, Prince took a chance and opened a permanent restaurant in 2021. 

Originally, the spot was a takeout-only menu due to that pandemic fun we’re so happy to have behind us. But recently, the dinning room has opened on a casual, first-come first-serve, walk-in basis. (They encourage you to call to get a feel for how busy the dinning room is at any given time.)

With a Friday evening to begin and hungry bellies to feed, we headed to ROK to check it out for ourselves!

Our Full Review

The Location


ROK sits in the uber unique location of the old Schmidt Brewery, the centerpiece of St. Paul’s West 7th Neighborhood, in the Rathskeller building located across the street from the Keg and Case Market.

The Vibe and Atmosphere

rok atmopshere

ROK advertises itself as a mashup of “New Nordic & Japanese Cuisine.” When we visited on a snowy winter day, we could feel that vibe in spades.

As the snow was pouring down down outside, the interior space was a nice contrast of warm woods and a comfortable, toasty temperature. (Literally, that heater was working overtime, although perhaps helped out by the open concept Yakitori Grill within eyesight!)

Mixed with the minimal, Japanese inspired design, and the vibe certainly evoked a feeling of part sauna, part sushi bar.

ROK is also a pretty casual setup, despite the technique obvious in the dishes. They doesn’t take reservations, and instead guests seem to come and go at a comfortable pace. Staff has also ditched the stuffy suits in favor of casual jeans. And if you really want to kick back, check out their events page – they’re constantly throwing down live music events, live painting classes, and all sorts of other fun happenings.

schmidt artist loft view

The Menu

rok menu

We’re told the menu is totally seasonal, often changing by the day. (This claim checked out, since our menu was a paper menu with today’s date printed on it.)

They definitely keep the options focused and streamlined; our visit had a total of eight dishes, a number that was dwarfed by the sake and japanese whiskey selection alone.

Speaking of which, the Japanese/Nordic mashup made itself known on throughout the menu. While the ingredients of each dish stayed on its respective side of the world, the final list had clearly Nordic inspired plates, like smoked salmon and roasted beats, sitting right next to Pork Belly with Yakitori sauce and Japanese Fried Chicken.


Sake and Japanese whiskey is the name of the game at ROK, although we may have failed you in our job as restaurant reviewers here…

Hey, it was happy hour! And that meant $1 off beer! (Of which they had a small, but interesting collecting of cans and bottles.)


Our server commented that the Karaage was possibly the most popular item on the menu, so that was an easy sell.

We also overhead a table next to us claiming that a mysterious source on TikTok ranked ROK’s Nordic Burger the second best in the Twin Cities, which is saying something considering how awesome the best burgers in the Twin Cities can be.

And well, I’m just a sucker for smoked salmon, so the Salmon Smorrebrod was a no-brainer.

Salmon Smoorebrod

salmon smorrebrod

Alright, this is gonna be a great meal.

Just look at that beauty!

salmon appetizer

And it tasted just as wonderful as it looked.

This was basically a deconstructed, open face Lox Bagel. And as someone who considers himself a pseudo-lox bagel connoisseur, I’m happy to report that this absolutely exceeded expectations. Lily and I agreed this might have been our favorite dish of the night.

Nordic Burger

rok burger

We’ve got another thing of beauty on our hands.

And again, it tasted just as fantastic as it looked.

Perfectly charred, unbelievably cheesy, and maybe the juiciest burger in town. Just incredible…

P.S. – We can’t go without mentioning those hand-cut potato chips. Paper thin yet still perfectly crunchy – seriously impressive.

burger and chips


rok karaage

ROK is three for three on beautiful dishes. And likewise, three for three on delicious dishes.

Technically, this was easily the most impressive dish of the night. It’s perfectly fried chicken, with light breading that still somehow remained perfectly crunchy.

And that chicken… my goodness. It was so tender and deliciously flaky that Sean actually did a double check that it wasn’t fresh caught fish.

They tied all of this together with a thick, deep, and wonderfully concentrated sauce reminiscent of the most complex orange chicken you’ve ever tasted.

A wonderful dish all the way around.

Dessert – Kladdkaka

rok dessert

Our waitress recommended this end to our meal for “the true ROK experience.”

This fun little dessert tasted like incredible brownie mix with a tart cream. We also loved that it was served in a little espresso cup, which made it a perfect size for a dessert treat, without getting completely stuffed.


Final Thoughts

rok eatery

West 7th Street is lucky to have this gem on its hands.

I can’t think of another restaurant in the entire Twin Cities that is mixing cuisines from opposite ends of the world on the same menu quite like Rok is doing, with their Nordic staples sitting right alongside Japanese favorites.

The result is a total success. Every dish we tried was a home run, making this one of the most refreshing dining experiences we’ve had in a while. (We immediately added it to our list of the best restaurants on West 7th Street.)

Get yourself to ROK!

Misc FAQS:


Plates at $10 to $20 each, and the portions are pretty solid!

We walked away at $40 per person, tip included, and that included lots of leftovers, dessert, and drinks. (Granted, we did take advantage of their generous happy hour, although we certainly ordered more food than we needed!)

What’s the service like? 

Full wait service, and casual overall.


ROK is housed in the Schmidt Artist lofts complex, so we were a little concerned about parking. But they do have a handful of designated spots in front of the restaurant.


ROK actually doesn’t take reservations.

We visited from 4:30 to 5:30ish on a Friday. All of the tables were full, but there were at least 10+ open seats at the bar.




Share on

Don't miss out

on awesome updates around the Twin Cities.
About the Author
More like this