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King Roka


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Had my first experience of Roka in Charlotte Street, London yesterday and was surprised to find there is no dedicated thread to the restaurant on eGullet. I thought the place was outstanding every respect. I tried dishes from across the menu including sushi, sashimi, dumpings, tempura and grilled items all of which were consistantly terrific. The room is just stunning. Anyone else been and agree or think I'm talking total nonsense?

Roka website

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It can be anything up to £75 for a tasting menu but they a set lunch from £15. Indiviual dishes are priced at anything between £3.60 for cucumber filled maki-zushi right up to £55.00 for wagyu beef with fresh wasabi and Japanese mushrooms. My meal was a sampling of a lot of dishes and wouldn't have been representative of what you would usually order but it cost around £65.00 and probably would have fed two people (I didn't eat it all I hasten to add).

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Sorry Andy - I eat there regularly as its just around the corner from work - should have started a post saying how good it was. I am very fond of the just seared tuna with baby roast tomatoes. Prawn tempura is also quite lovely. Warning though – its not cheap and its all too easy to arrive at £35+ for lunch & that’s without wine.

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I have been to Zuma more than once, and Roka once. First impressions of Zuma were indeed that it was Nobu-lite, but being in Knightsbridge and having the kind of decor it does, just going for a more monied and slightly less foodie market - the press interest, particularly regarding the Russel Crowe instead in their lounge area only added to this.

I remember a few dishes - this was a while ago - like the soft shell crab with wasabi or was it yuzu mayonnaise? The crab was greasy, but this dish would have worked if executed properly. Same with the tempura selection I felt (this was at lunch time, 80% full on a weekday, soon after opening) - too greasy altho would have been good tasting - veg/seafood were well treated, batter and oil let the thing down. The large grilled shrimp with yuzu dressing was the biggest let-down - massively over-cooked, dry shrimp with a dressing that was far too tart.

On subsequent occassions, the most recent of which was at the end of last year for Sunday lunch, the cooking has been better, and my dish selection has varied to include more of the various different menu sections. A lamb chop dish I remember being wonderfully tender and well flavoured. Sashimi/sushi creations have gained in confidence massively.

Roka was a dinner thing for me and a very enjoyable experience, with lots of sake, so cant comment accurately about food (it was a Friday night thing, but the korean pork and cabbage was well executed). But I did enjoy the evening and the buzz overall, a different alternative to Friday night at nearby Hakkasan, which for food and drinks has, to my mind, great Friday night potential. The unfortunate fishbowl effect of Roka is a little disappointing, I can imagine it being worse at lunchtime. From that point of view I enjoy an outing at Hakkasan more. Maybe cos its older as well, but Hakkasan has relaxed into its party role on Fridays, yet I dont feel that the cooking suffers as a result, altho getting a waiter/wairesses attention does. The waitress at Roka I do remember not being very adept at answering questions about ingredients and preparations, but was kind and courteous to a bunch of students that ordered more sake than food.

Raj

Edited to add: I do agree with Jon's comments about pricing - its very easy to order a lot of dishes and remain underfed, at which point you order more and are then faced with a scary bill.

Edited by Raj Banerjee (log)
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I was there on the 25th aswell and had a great time. We had the £50 tasting menu; not necessarily good value, but certainly great food.

We had:

Pork and scallop dumplings

Kimchi

Tuna tataki

3 Sashimi - Tuna, Salmon, Sea Bream

tempura Tuna rolls

Eggplant in Mirin and Ginger

Grilled asparagus with soy and sesame

Sea bream with Miso sauce

Chicken Yakitori

Mushroom rice hotpot

All of the food was excelent; especially both Sea Breams. The room itself was great; the designer seems to have had a great sense of light and texture. There was a great mix of wood, metal, stone and other textures on the walls; we were sitting beside a wall of light covered in a tan substance that felt almost like paper mache. (but not in a bad way). We didn't look at the winelist, but there was a good range of Shochu and Sake. I'm bad enough remembering what wines I've had.. I'm afraid I have no chance with Sake!!

The service was pretty good too. At the table next to us the waiter spilt warm sake in a diner's lap. The apologies were profuse, an extra desert was presented to the couple and the manager gave them his business card so that they could arrange to be reimbursed for any necessary dry cleaning.

All in all, it was a really good meal, and I would recommend it.

'You can't be a real country unless you have a beer and an airline - it helps if you have some kind of a football team, or some nuclear weapons, but at the very least you need a beer.'

- Frank Zappa

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Andy, i'm suprised it's taken you so long to get there! Its an excellent restaurant with a good bar downstairs if you want even less formality with your food.

The king crab rice hot pot with wasabi tobiko is easily the best dish i have eaten in the last year.

Their schochu(flavoured rice wine i think) is good fun to try, as well as the warm sake.

Its run by a very good management team, of which the restaurant manager was at Zuma previously.

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