37 Charlotte Street
London W1T 1RR
Monday to Friday 12-3.30pm
Saturday to Sunday 12.30-3.30pm
Monday to Saturday 5.30-11.30pm
Sunday and Bank holidays 5.30-10.30pm
Roka holds a special place in our hearts. The first time we celebrated our anniversary together, we went to Roka. Since then, we’ve reserved Roka for special occasions, and every time we’ve been there we’ve not been disappointed. It is perhaps for this reason that we’re slightly more biased in our ratings here, giving it a 9 for food, when it should probably be an 8.5. However, we had to give it just that little bit more, to emphasize how important this restaurant is to us. In fact, on one occasion, when we nearly burnt our house down (stupid, stupid mistake), we felt so crummy that we went to Roka to cheer ourselves up, and it did. We feel that food should be more than just the taste in your mouth, but also the experience and memories it leaves you, so we feel justified in giving Roka a 9 for food. (And also, it’s OUR blog so we do whatever we want!)
Service at Roka is excellent. We’ve been there 4 times now, and we’ve gotten different servers each time. However, all of them have been professional and respectful, and we are always made to feel welcome there. (The door staff however, tends to be a little more ‘cool’ in that aspect.)
We’ve had so many items from their menu it’s quite hard to keep count. The first time we went, we had the premium tasting menu, which gave us a very good feel of the restaurant. The food is modern Japanese fusion, and every dish is well thought and a stand alone in its own right.
The outstanding dishes at Roka include (and we order this over and over again):
Sashimi: These are supposedly supplied from the Atari-ya group, and everything is fresh and delicious. You’re definitely paying the premium for dining at one of the most stylish restaurants around, as for a fraction of the price, you can get the same at Atari-ya. However, since you’re already at Roka, it would be a sin to skip sashimi there. (We would skip the squid though – not a fan of it.)
Yellowtail Tartar/Tuna Tartar: Very good, and we love the sesame seed cracker at the side. Our only complaint would be that the portions are too small!!
Wagyu Beef Tartar Sushi: We had this when A’s sisters and cousin came to visit, and they absolutely loved it. So do we.
Lamb Cutlets: This is far better than the version at Tsunami. The lamb is not too fatty, and the sauce has a nice kick to it that we love. Unlike Tsunami, there is only just a little sauce on the side, but we don’t think it’s necessary, as the whole dish is incredibly flavorful by itself.
Baby Back Ribs: The combination of the cashew nuts and spring onions with the tender ribs is perfect. This is a real pleaser.
Soft Shell Crab: Roka has one of the best soft shell crabs around. The soft shell crab is the star of this dish, unlike many restaurants, which coat everything in too much batter that it completely distracts from the crab.
Scallops: A’s youngest sister loves scallops, and when we first tried it, we knew we had to order it for her when she came. The scallops are absolutely huge, and perfectly cooked. You really feel like royalty when you pick up the scallops with the skewer and put it in your mouth. The sauce it comes in is very subtle, and allows the natural freshness of the scallops to truly shine.
Black Cod marinated in Yuzu Miso: We’ve had this dish in so many restaurants, and though Roka’s isn’t the best (that distinction is given to Nobu), it is still pretty darn good.
Chicken Skewers with Spring Onion: This doesn’t seem like an intuitive choice, after all, how spectacular can chicken skewers be, and why should I pay so much for it? Well, go try it. This comes with a little spoonful of sea salt, which gives the wings a burst of salt with each bite. Each wing is perfectly grilled, and we’ll willingly overlook the price and order it without fail.
Dark Chocolate and Maccha Pudding: Just one word: DIVINE.
The dishes that we tried once, but won’t order again include:
Foie Gras with Umeshu Plum and Nama Nori: The Nori is amazing. We were fascinated by how thinly sliced it was. The Foie Gras on the other hand, let’s just say we haven’t quite acquired the taste yet. It was too much foie gras, too full on.
Rice Hot Pot with King Crab: Nothing too special, its purpose would be perhaps to fill you up.
Marinated Quail: This was very tasty, but I guess quail just isn’t one of our favourite meats.
Lobster and Black Cod Dumplings: The black cod is quite non-existent in the dumplings, and could have very well been any random fish. But having said that, it is a very good dish, and A did like it. She disagrees with me on this, and thinks I’m overly harsh.
Fried Eggplant with Sesame Miso: Just alright, not bad, but not worth a second try for us.
The sushi and maki selection is quite limited, but sufficient to satisfy. We particularly love the Shrimp tempura roll, and the Ikura sushi always puts a smile on our faces. This part of the meal is not the most spectacular, and we would recommend going more for the other dishes, as they are truly wonderful and shouldn’t be missed.