Being a lover of fish, simple flavours as well as easy to share food, Japanese cuisine ticks all my eating preferences which is why it’s still one of my most favourite cuisines. However, sushi in particular tends to not to be as popular with others with the idea of raw fish, smaller portions or even sometimes a menu not focusing on meat dishes are all excuses I’ve continuously heard.
When the opportunity does arise and I’m armed with a group of equally obsessed sushi fanatics (Mehreen, Angie & Gary), it’s all systems go and ROKA was the destination of choice. The only problem was how to narrow down our choices.
Although ROKA does have a decently priced tasting menu at £55pp, we decided to order our own since there were a few dishes that we didn’t want to miss.
‘Kihada maguro no tataki’ or yellowfin tuna tataki with apple mustard dressing arrived larger than expected. The tuna had a subtle taste from the apple mustard dressing with more of a tart flavour which worked well with the fish.
Next to arrive with impeccable presentation was the sashimi selection which had a mix of chu toro (medium fat tuna), salmon, hamachi (yellowtail belly), salmon tartare with a rice cracker, tai (seabream) and a few others I couldn’t recall.
As an overall dish each morsel of fish was beautifully tender and fresh; easily the best sashimi I’ve ever tried.
Tuna tataki was equally as pleasant with a light sear and, again,with the use of apple mustard added salty and sweet notes to the dish.
I’m not usually a fan of tempura but ROKA’s prawn tempura changed my mind. The batter on the prawns was incredibly crisp without a hint of grease whilst still leaving the prawns succulent with no lost flavours. A dish not to miss.
On to the more traditional sushi and we ordered a mix of california rolls and spicy tuna sushi which were all just as light yet delicious as everything else that we tried, with plenty of fresh vegetables in the centre.
Black cod, crab and crayfish gyoza had a beautifully light pastry with a subtle salty soy-based dressing and gave a burst of flavour once bitten.
I’m a huge fan of black cod and this didn’t disappoint; perfectly cooked and grilled to perfection. It’s such a shame we had to share.
Of course with plenty of fish options we had to order a few meat dishes to balance out the meal and the first was grilled baby chicken dressed with lemon miso.
Juicy chicken which had been beautifully flavoured and still had a golden crispy skin. Delicious.
The smoked duck almost took my breath away once it arrived, delicately presented and wrapped in a banana leaf it was one I couldn’t wait to try. Cooked rare with a crispy skin leaving all the juicy fat; the dish spoke for itself.
Now although we dined like kings and queens, one cannot simple leave the table without dessert. After a few too many glasses of champagne, it was difficult to make a good sweet choice. The best way to end a meal? Just order it all. From what I recall we ordered the dessert platter which was around the £50 mark and we all gasped when it arrived. Safe to say our spoons were at the ready and we finished every single item including all the scattered fruit. I would go into a little more detail about each dessert, but truthfully it all merged into one giant pleasant feast.
ROKA was an evening I’ll never forget. Not only was I dining with great company and drinking wonderful champagne & wine but the food was outstanding. Each morsel of fish was just as fresh as the last and I certainly had no complaints. As a blogger it’s easy to focus on each negative element on a dish but with ROKA, I just couldn’t fault the restaurant and I can’t wait to bring more people aboard the sushi-loving train.
– ROKA, Aldwych