It was entirely by accident that B and I stumbled upon Roka, the Japanese restaurant on Charlotte Street, central London. We were, in fact, hoping to go to new champagne-and-hotdogs joint Bubbledogs, but there was a 45-minute wait, it was late, I was half-way through chemotherapy and kinda tired, so we went for a wander and thought Roka looked cool from the outside.
My first impression was that it looked just like Zuma, the Japanese sushi restaurant in Knightsbridge I’d been to on a date a couple of years before: the hardwood counter surrounding the square open kitchen where you can watch the chefs busily grilling seabass and preparing sushi while you dine. It turns out my first impressions weren’t far wrong, as Roka and Zuma are part of the same group.
It was a Saturday night (Nov. 17) and the only seats available for two were at the bar/counter facing the open Robata grill, which was exactly what we wanted. B and I had both eaten earlier this year at La Huella in José Ignácio, Uruguay, and were instantly reminded of our wooden-counter seats at the latter’s beach-side sushi bar. The atmosphere at Roka was perfect – dim-lit, stylish and packed full but with a more-relaxed-than-Zuma vibe. Half an hour after we arrived, there was a queue of beautiful people at the door, so it seems we got in just before the mad rush.
We weren’t starving, having just been to the cinema, and only called in for a quick meal, but I couldn’t resist ordering the Robata-grilled seabass. The food was brought out to us as soon as it was ready, which was disappointing as I received both my sweet-soy-and-sesame Yaki asparagus and a bowl of luke-warm steamed rice at least ten minutes before the seabass arrived. Though the asparagus was perfectly cooked – crunchy and sweet – I had to finish it before my seabass arrived, or let it go cold, which was a shame. Even our cocktails arrived fifteen minutes after ordering them, at the same time as the seabass and tofu main dishes.
The seabass itself was cooked on the open charcoal grill in front of my very eyes and served on a leaf, which I had to turn over onto the plate, exposing the most beautifully moist, white fish that fell apart in my mouth. The dish was perfectly and simply presented with a chunk of lime and a side salad, and every morsel was juicy and flavoursome.
All in all, I give Roka the thumbs up, for its great, trendy atmosphere, friendly staff and mouth-watering dishes. My only problem was the timing of the food, but I’ll definitely go back and give it another try.
What we ate:
Laura: Yaki Asparagus, Steamed Rice and Robata-grilled Seabass
B: Tofu and broccoli
Price for 2 people for dinner, 2 cocktails:
Service: Friendly and fast
Value for Money: 8/10
Recommend? Yes – I’ll definitely be going back to try the Tasting Menu and the black cod.
This article was originally published at Life After Cancer.