Thursday, 13 June 2013


Anyone who knows me will know my obsession with Japanese food- and Roka has got to be one of my favourite places to go to when I need my craving satisfied.

Wagyu gunkan sushi with oscietra caviar, spring onion and ginger

Ambience was informal- warm golden lighting and textured wood tables gave a relaxed, casual feel, which is a welcome change from Zuma's dark nightclub-like interior. Or maybe I'm just a 60 year old trapped inside a teenager's body.

I visited with my family in November last year and my brother and I had the premium tasting menu (£75 per head.)


Seared beef with truffle dressing
 Beef was beautifully tender and complemented cucumber wonderfully. Plus I am a sucker for all things truffle.

Tuna tartare (seasonal tasting menu)

This was not on the premium tasting menu, but on the seasonal tasting menu which my parents had. (We shared all the dishes anyway.) This was stylishly presented on a ice block, and the tuna was fresh with the prized melt-in-the-mouth consistency. Served with rice crackers which contrasted wonderfully with the fatty tuna texture.

Black cod, crab and crayfish dumpling
This gyoza-style dumpling had a citrusy tang but I felt this overpowered the delicate seafood flavours nestled inside.

Main Courses

Chicken skewers with lime and rock salt (seasonal tasting menu)
Again, not on the premium tasting menu (items for the grill are generally cheaper) but was tender and had that beautiful honey marinade skin. The grilled items were slightly less flavoursome than the other dishes however and I felt that this chicken relied too much on the rock salt for flavour.

Miso black cod rice with piri piri and lemon
Our server said that this dish was her favourite on the premium tasting menu- the black cod melted in the mouth and the miso flavour was exquisite.

Smoked duck breasts with mango

The subtle smoked breasts were cooked to perfection with a beautifully pink colour. It was slightly lacking in the flavour department, and I would have liked more mango to counteract the dryness of the meat.

Lamb cutlets with Korean spices
 The powerful Korean sauce was too much in this dish and completely overshadowed any semblance of flavour that the lamb might have had. The fact that I remember the sesame cucumber garnish more than the actual lamb speaks volumes! (PS: the cucumber garnish was extremely good.)


Roka dessert platter
And finally, the infamous Roka dessert platter- astonishingly beautiful as always, featuring exotic fruits, sorbets, Tia Maria chocolate pudding with a liquid centre, peanut chocolate vanilla ice cream cup...
It definitely overshadows Chino Latino's offering and is a delight for the senses. 

My favourite would actually have to be the sorbets, particularly the yuzu sorbet as the tart, refreshing taste was a perfect palate cleanser and a light end to the meal.

Service at Roka is impeccable. There is nothing to fault in the staff's obvious knowledge and love of the menu, and they were courteous and attentive. Unlike Sake no Hana and Nobu, your server keeps you updated and always ensures you are completely at ease with everything, without seeming obtrusive.

Although this is a late review and the tasting menus may have changed since then, I revisited Roka in February this year for my birthday, and can happily report that nothing is out of the ordinary- it is excellence as usual.

The price may seem hefty but it is a lot better value than its counterpart, Zuma. I also feel that the food  may even be slightly better than Zuma, and I definitely prefer the speckled golden atmosphere of Roka which is quieter, less claustrophobic and allows more attention from your server.

Roka is a perfect example of London's metropolitan, sophisticated and diverse cuisine scene- this is one not to be missed. Just a few touch-ups on some dishes needed (but that is me being very picky.)


37 Charlotte Street, London WIT IRR
020 7380 6464

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