Dining in London: Roka

by artfuldiner on October 27, 2010

in London, Opinion, Review, Wining and Dining

roka-interiorRoka, 37 Charlotte Street, London, W1T 1RR, www.rokarestaurant.com


Roka, the Japanese entry in the Charlotte Street restaurant row sweepstakes, also has an establishment in London’s Canary Wharf, as well as outlets in Hong Kong and Scottsdale, Arizona… But don’t let that fool you. This is no run-of-the-mill mini chain chophouse. The food here shows great & loving care in both preparation and presentation… as crowds at lunch and dinner clearly attest. And we were fortunate enough to dine here at midday – more like early/middle afternoon – on three occasions (on two of them, taking advantage of the highly unusual warm and sunny London weather to enjoy our food al fresco). 


The main focus of this attractively-appointed restaurant seems to be the large three-sided bar where pristinely fresh (and rather pricey) morsels of sushi are served up with flair and finesse. But take heart. Even if you’re not into raw fish, there is still a great deal to tempt your palate; as the real emphasis here, in my opinion, is on the exotically cooked dishes that are, quite simply, prepared to perfection. In point of fact, one could very easily go the tapas route, ordering a variety of small plates to savor and share – which proved an extremely satisfactory modus operandi during our three visits.


roka-vegetable-tempuraTo start things off, let me simply say that the vegetable tempura was the most celestial rendition of this particular dish that I have sampled anywhere. The batter was as light as a feather, literally melting on the tongue, and the vegetables themselves were cooked through while still maintaining their bite-wise integrity; and they were accompanied by two first-rate dipping sauces… one sweet, one slightly spicy.


The table favorite, however, proved to be the beef, ginger, and sesame dumplings. The translucent wantons were absolutely ethereal and the filling of tender beef and delicate seasonings was irresistible.


Also enjoyed were the moist and tender chicken skewers accompanied by green onions and the incredibly addictive slender broccoli spears bathed in a seductive pool of miso (fermented soybean paste), mirin (Japanese rice wine), and ginger.


For a casual lunch, dinner, or midday snack, Roka is not to be missed.


Bon Appétit!



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