Located in Fitzrovia, Roka is a perfect for self-indulgence in Japanese cuisine. I have always been fond of Roka because that is a venue where my other half took me to dinner back in 2013. I’ve only returned once which was on my 2nd year anniversary this year. (Roka has opened in Canary Wharf, Mayfair and Aldwych too).
The earthy interiors, the vibrant but gentle use of colours and the kitchen being the centerpiece of the restaurant really gave me the idea and the feel of freshly prepared sushi. Open kitchen is lovely but not so if the smell of the cook gets onto your clothing but frankly there was no smell at all because it is used to prepare the mouth watering sashimi, the nigiri and the maki rolls. I have always seen sushi as a work of art and at all honesty, true Japanese chefs focus heavily on the quality of the fish as well as the presentation of the dish as a whole.
Twice I had visited the Charlotte Street venue and despite having numerous urges to revisit the venue, I wanted to share the same excitement I have had at the venue with my love. (In case anyone wondered, the Charlotte Street venue has a lovely bar downstairs – it reminds me of some dark but secretive lounge but it does look very appealing should anyone wishes to have a few sake or two before dining upstairs.
We have had the typical Wing’s favourite ‘favourites’ we had salmon nigiri and chi-toro nigiri (mid fatty tuna – I would love some o-toro instead however I wanted to save my stomach for the dessert as the dessert is DELICIOUS and addictive – so delicious that it.. – I shall continue describing it towards the end) but no o-toro for the night. Our nigiri’s were followed by prawn avocado maki. It smelt amazing as well as the presentation, I particularly appreciated the wasabi paste that was used to decorate the dish – it didn’t taste as strong as the wasabi that I mixed with my soy sauce.
I enjoyed the Salmon tartar with wasabi tobiko and seaweed cracker, although the salmon tartare tasted a little cooked (I eat salmon tartare and salmon sashimi too much) and although it was creamy and the wasabi tobiko made it tasted a little sweet I enjoyed the seaweed cracker. It felt like I was having a Salmon pâté instead. It was delicious and refreshing but I believe it could be a little better but if you want to try something refreshing before anything on the robata menu from Roka, this is the dish.
I very rarely order hot food when I eat sushi because my mind had always focused on the fishes but I am glad my fiancé ordered the baby back ribs. From the Robata menu, we ordered the baby back ribs and I must say the portion was rather monstrous in it’s own way but also elegantly displayed with spring onions to decorate. It’s sticky yet sweet taste really satisfied my taste buds, it was full of flavour which made me appreciate the earlier entrance of the nigiri and maki rolls. The baby back ribs were glazed with their ‘master stock’ which gave it its unique taste, and yes as much as I would dislike being seen, I had used my fingers to eat the ribs. Not as ladylike as many would describe however you cannot eat ribs without the help of your hands – this not only show you are lady (or man) enough to eat with your fingers but it also avoids the chances of slipping the ribs back on your plate and the embarrassment of leaving the ribs half eaten and the sauce rubbing on your face.. need I say more?
The grilled tofu was the final dish before the dessert, looking at the grilled tofu alone you would not have thought the dish was anymore appealing from somewhere say.. chinatown (as the Chinese do make tofu very tasty) but this particular dish was great after the baby back ribs because the tofu is grilled for a period of time in order for the skin to develop its crusty yet non-intruding protection to the tofu underneath the top layer. It was marinated with shichimi pepper, soy sauce, lime and decorated with spring onions (ok scallions as some would describe instead).
For my favourite part, come the desserts! I was allowed to order two desserts so I took the chance to order the very same dessert that made me fall in love with Roka (Charlotte Street one!). I had forgotten the name of the dessert but thankfully I took a photo of the dessert and when the waiter pointed out the dessert name for me I was pleased that it was still there – although I was wondering whether it was the right one because back in 2013 I was focusing heavily on my fiancé I have forgotten almost everything apart from how attracted I was to him. The Dark Chocolate and Green Tea Pudding with pear ice cream on the side to compliment the very chocolatey pudding. It had a layer of crunchy jivara to make it more delicious. My fiancé took the recommendation from our waiter and ordered the Coconut, kiwi and passionfruit parfait, I had to call Roka to let me know what other parts there were to the dessert because admittedly I focused on the Dark Chocolate and Green Tea Pudding. The dessert was named the Coconut, Kiwi and Passionfruit Parfait with Raspberry Pannacotta with Almond Biscuit and Fresh fruit, they layout was different to when it gets ordered normally because it was for our anniversary so we had a message and a candle to mark the day. Although, I was a little disappointed my dessert size was smaller than usual, despite having the fruits spread across the sashimi boat ‘plate’ with lots of ice I wished my dessert was bigger. I didn’t taste the parfait so my comment on that dessert is pretty much non-existent, but it did look very appealing and very delicious however my eyes were set on my dessert and ultimately my fiance. I am tempted to just go to Roka and order the desserts however this will be saved for another time or maybe the next time I am around the area (Fitzrovia that is!)
Visit Roka at Fitzrovia:
37 Charlotte Street, London W1T 1RR