Roka, Charlotte Street – creative Japanese
- Restaurant: Roka
- Location: Charlotte Street, Fitzrovia
- Zagat Food Score: 26 / 30
- Jelly Good Food Score: 10/10
On this occasion Jelly really lucked out! A trip to Roka for Saturday night dinner together with two of their most popular staff – Karolina – one of Roka’s most seasoned waitresses and her other half Ben – Roka’s Head Sommelier.
Before this trip I was a committed Roka convert already, however J was a Roka virgin and in general not the biggest fan of Japanese cuisine, raw fish and such. I’ll confess that had all my hopes pinned on Roka to change that.
As it turned out, this was a night to remember and surpassed the highest expectations either of us had. We were treated to a feast beyond normal realms of possibility with some of the dishes served being off-menu, made especially for us. I’m almost ashamed to reveal the quantity of food we ate between the four of us… but here goes:
I’m afraid to say that I did not manage to keep track of all the names of the wonderull things we were served, however the dishes above included breaded prawns with chilli mayo, soft shell crab sashimi, tuna sashimi, spinach leaves and sesame dressing, asparagus with sweet soy, black cod marinated in yuzu miso, sea bass sashimi with truffle, beef carpaccio with truffle and cucumber (amazing texture), grilled sea bass, scallop skewers, soft shell crab sushi, lime chicken, seaweed salad, sweet ribs, a selection of pre-desserts including asahi beer granita and japanese cheesecake (off menu again) and finally a boatfull of other wonderfullness such as dragon fruit, sorbets and melting choholite brownies.
We were also able to meet the head chef …… he sent a rack of ribs to our table afterwards – what a nice guy!
The creativity of flavour combinations and presentation is hopefully evident from the photos above, however the quality of ingridients is worth mentioning. Karolina informed us that many are especially imported from Japan – such as the seawed in the salad, which had to be taken off the menu at one point as there was no seaweed available due to storms in that part of the world. Attention to detail is everything here. You will see this for yourself in fact, if you visit Roka, because the restaurant is dominated by the centrally located robata grill, with the produce prepared in full view of the diners at the surrounding counters and tables. Half a dozen highly disciplined chefs slave away around this grill during the service – so if you like to watch, make sure to book a counter seat for a good view.
It’s true that this is an is expensive restaurant under normal circumstances, but all factors considered, Jelly believes the value for money ratio here is fair. We advise not to skimp on the experience by ordering frugally, instead come here for a special occasion and order everything.
After dinner you can also check out Sochu, a very trendy bar just below Roka, which shares its kitchen. We did just that and apart from getting really rather drunk also managed do some celebrity spotting – Arsenal football team’s capitain turned out to be siting directly behind us, doing his footballer thing – entertaining a lovely young lady.
JellyGoodFood Bottom line:
As good as Asian food ever got for Jelly. Modern, chic, surprising and absolutely delectable – enough to turn a a sushi hater around. Effortlessly waltzes into Jelly’s Good Food Hall of Fame.