Sunday, 3 March 2013

Roka, Fitzrovia

The restaurants on Charlotte Street are always teeming with media types on Friday lunchtimes.  If I’m lucky enough to get an invite, I’m sometimes one of them, and a few Fridays ago got the chance to go to Roka for a work lunch.  It was the perfect opportunity to go again, as I was impressed with the modern Japanese food and its beautiful presentation on lunches before, but it’s a pricey place.  They don't have prices on their website, and as the saying goes if you have to ask, you can't afford it.  A treat if someone else is picking up the bill.

The menu includes sushi and sashimi, along with a focus on their Robata grill.  There were eight of us for lunch, so we got to greedily work our way through a lot of the menu.


We started with tempura (we tried all kinds on the premise that deep fried=good), with crunchy and nicely fishy soft-shell crab, fresh prawn and vegetables, all in the light, bubbly batter.  The favourite of rock shrimp has been replaced by Scottish langoustine (apparently rock shrimp are too hard to get hold of now) – not quite as good, but still very tasty with the chili mayo.

From the sushi selection we had some with more soft-shell crab with cucumber and kimchi, and some very fresh tuna rolls.  The gyoza came next and were lovely – sticky, golden beef, ginger and sesame, and my favourite dish of little dumplings filled with black cod, crab and crayfish with a tangy ponzu  citrus dressing. 

Roka’s black cod is the best version I’ve tried, with buttery, soft fish in the delicious yuzu miso marinade.  The beef skewers and tender, pink beef fillet were also very good, and the vegetable dishes were fantastic, with asparagus with sweet soy and sesame and squidgy soft and sweet aubergine with mirin, ginger and soy.

The real showstopper was the dessert platter – about three foot long, with exotic fruit, colourful balls of sorbets and ice-creams, and a selection of their desserts.  My favourites were the dark chocolate pudding with a slightly-scary bright green macha tea filling oozing from the middle, and a lychee custardy pot topped with granita and a nutty, chewy coconut biscuit.  Just don’t try the stinky snake fruit (like a disgusting lychee, which no-one needs even if it is very exotic).

The cocktails are also great – twinkles (champagne, vodka and elderflower with a lemon twist), and the lawnmower (vodka, the Japanese spirit shochu, lemon, pepper and vanilla) being the best I tried.  I haven’t been downstairs to the Shochu Lounge bar below, but have heard it’s always buzzy for evening drinks.

I was just as impressed by Roka on this visit, but just maybe wait for someone nice to invite you there.

Roka on Urbanspoon

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