Shiima’s away in Budapest, so I took the opportunity for another solo excursion. This time I chose Roka, a modern Japanese restaurant focused on dishes from the robata grill. I’d heard of Roka countless times, first Shiima suggested it as a restaurant I’d love but she wouldn’t because there aren’t many chicken dishes (to be fair to Roka, there are a fair amount of chicken dishes, but then to be fair to Shiima, Roka do not have their menu online). Also, every time I’ve mentioned our blog to a restaurant enthusiast, Roka is one of the restaurants they gush about. Roka has several restaurants across London, six to be exact, but I decided on the Mayfair restaurant, as I’d seen it on the way to NAC a couple months back.
I called Roka Mayfair and was told I didn’t need to reserve a table as I was alone, just to drop in and get a place by the sushi bar (more a robata bar, more on that to come), so off I went with great expectations. I got to the restaurant, which is roughly 5 minutes walk from Bond Street Station, at about 6PM and it was already somewhat busy. I was checked in by the maître d and led to a prime spot at the robata bar. Usually in Japanese restaurants it’s a sushi bar, where you sit and watch the sushi chefs do their magic, but not in Roka Mayfair, they are focused on the robata grill, which in this case is worth it because it is a beautiful sight. The robata grill is the centrepiece of the restaurant. The restaurant’s décor is elegant with a penchant for wood and glass. The waiter quickly arrives with both the drink and food menu and asks if I’d like still or sparkling water; I always want to say “tap water, please”, but I never do lol. I ask for still water and she offers to bring me lemons and ice – nice touch; first restaurant to do this, I think. The ice and lemons with water make a perfect drink for me, so much that I immediately asked her to take the drink menu away.
The food menu isn’t exhaustive, but it has everything you’d hope for and a few more dishes that you’d only find at Roka. I went for the Chu-toro (medium-fatty tuna) sashimi, Unagi (eel) sashimi, and salmon tartar for starters, and the Black Cod and spiced chicken wings from the robata grill. The tuna sashimi was lovely; it was fresh and meaty. The unagi was even more delicious, so much that I didn’t need the soy sauce or the wasabi to compliment it. But the winner from the starters was the salmon tartar, which was seasoned with miso; it was simply amazing. The Black Cod was as I’d hoped – excellent. The cod was cooked to perfection, and the miso marinade wasn’t too sweet or overpowering. The spiced chicken wings were good, but nothing special. First off, it wasn’t spicy, and the spoon of salt on the plate was unnecessary, but it was cooked really well.
I was still hungry so, with little expectations, I had a look at the dessert menu. To my surprise, there were a couple good sounding desserts on there, and after a bit of thought I went for the yogurt and almond cake with caramel ice cream. The dessert was lovely, a good finish to a really enjoyable dining experience. I really don’t know where the yogurt was in the cake, but I didn’t care. The cake was freshly made, so it was soft and warm, which went really well with the ice cream and the mango-based sauce. It was really good dessert.
Somewhat unexpectedly Roka was much cheaper that my prior solo excursion in Sake No Hana, maybe because I’d become more adept at ordering for just myself. Overall, Roka Mayfair was a really good experience and now that I’ve seen the menu and can attest that there are a fair few chicken dishes, Shiima and I will be going to Roka soon. I’d recommend for special occasions, dates, and a spot at the bar for those foodies who enjoy their own company – there were several solo diners.
Dress Code: Smart Casual
Amen’s Star Dish: Salmon tartar
Price: £50+ (excluding alcohol)
Rating: 4.9 out of 5
30 North Audley Street
London W1K 6ZF
Call or visit their website to Reserve