Roka, London

I had something fashion related ready but it’s taking me a bit longer than expected to finish (I’m almost done), so instead I am posting more restaurant related posts. It’s sad but I’m not really in the kitchen much anymore, but I’ll try to get back into it once I have more time…

Roka is like the Yakitori equivalent of NYC, you know, meat on sticks Japanese grill style…sashimi appetizers and what not…but this placed is more ‘tricked out’ if you know what I mean (caviar and truffles are ingredients that are included in the menu, something you won’t see at Yakitori or Kenka on St. Marks street). Every time I come here there is a line out the door and the hostess is always saying the same line.. “Sorry there is a 1-2 hour wait, but you can go downstairs to the bar and have a drink“..I don’t know whether this is a ploy to get you to spend more money, or if there really is that long of a wait…I know this place is very popular but I really did not enjoy waiting 1.5 hours on a night that I actually made a reservation. If you come here, don’t fall for the “go downstairs to the bar for a drink line”, just patiently wait where the hostess can see your glaring eyes! The food is delicious and the sashimi is surprisingly fresh for a meat-on-sticks kind of place. I hate the club/bar downstairs though.

DSC_0033

Edamame here is served at every table (complimentary) and they always ask if you want plain or spicy. Of course I order the spicy. The edamame is marinated in sesame oil, hot peppers, soy sauce, and vinegar. Requisite Asahi beer hanging in the background.

DSC_0037

DSC_0029

DSC_0022

Next up, grilled tofu. From plain sight this dish looks very tasteless…but it is just perfect. The tofu is grilled for a long time so the outer skin develops into a crusty texture..it is also marinated with shichimi pepper, soy sauce, lime and topped with thinly diced scallions.

DSC_0125

DSC_0131

The sashimi is very good here, they know how to properly cut fish. This platter features a very standard mix- tuna, yellowtail, raw shrimp with caviar, toro tartare with quail egg yolk, and salmon. The selection is not exotic or varied but since this place doesn’t really specialize in sushi it’s okay.

DSC_0045

DSC_0050

DSC_0055

Toro Tartare with quail egg yolk and caviar

DSC_0109

DSC_0111

This may LOOK like toro tartare on top of rice but it’s actually kobe beef tartare sushi. I liked this creative twist on sushi, not even sushi really because it’s raw meat but the presentation is influenced by sushi. God this was so good. I love beef tartare in general.

DSC_0081

The raw meat is not flavorless, it is marinated with salt, soy sauce and some kind of oil.

DSC_0099

Not your typical slab of ribs, these are flavored strongly with lime and hot peppers.. Actually the head chef seems to like lime a lot. Fine by me.

DSC_0154

DSC_0159

DSC_0160

Fried softshell crab. This tasted very normal. Not impressed but that’s okay because everything else was great.

DSC_0153

Garnished with red pepper thread.

DSC_0147

My favorite dish here is their hot pot…the soup base for this specific hot pot is drawn from Katsuobushi or dried and fermented tuna shavings…these shavings are thrown into boiling water and that becomes the stock. This hot pot also has a lot of Japanese fern and vegetables which adds an earthy flavor..then rice is added into the soup base and boiled for a long time until it becomes thick like porridge… you can think of this as asian risotto…They also bring a fresh truffle for you and shave lots of it on top of the rice.

DSC_0175

DSC_0181

DSC_0177

This is a good thing to order if there are more than two people sharing, the hot pot serves 2-4 people.

DSC_0193

Lychee and Raspberry cake

DSC_0202

DSC_0210

DSC_0219

Roka
37 Charlotte St, London
020 7580 6464