We had one of our annual pilgrimages to great London restaurants last week. One night here at Roka, the following evening something more traditional at Clos Maggiore and then a west end show followed by a little bit of food poisoning. A interesting few days were had by all!
Roka was set up in 2004. Since then it has won numerous awards. It was the original Japanese restaurant which gave birth to its sister restaurant Zuma. We ate at Zuma last year and it was superb, so we decided to give the Japanese theme another go. We weren’t disappointed. I may even go as far to say that it was possibly the best meal I’ve ever had. Midway through dinner, my wife asked how I would rate the food compared to Le Quat Saisons at Le Manoir, Raymond Blancs restuarant. This was leagues ahead. The precison of the dishes is second to none and the flavours are out this world. If I was a Michelin inspector, I know which one I’d give two stars.
We decided to treat ourselves and had the premium tasting menu, which ate something like this:
To begin, Yellowfin Tuna Sashimi with a Yuzu Truffle dressing. The tuna was velvety soft and the dressing was thick and unctuous. A hint of truffle and acidic kick from the yuzu.
The oyster was just called an Irish Oyster it had wonderful ponzu and daikon dressings. From front right, yellowfin nigiri, wasabi, sea bass, salmon and tuna. All were as delicious as they looked but the tuna had an amazing smoky seasoning which made it taste as if it had been chargrilled.
Dish of the night for myself was the beef tataki and truffle. I think a picture paints a thousand words! This is possibly one of the best things I’ve eaten. I would never put truffle with Japanese flavourings but it was sublime.
When we visited Zuma last year. The highlight of the evening was a soft shell crab tempura. We weren’t informed that our scallops were off the menu for the evening, but later found out that this was it’s replacement. The tempura was light and crisp as you would expect and the hot sticky sauce was moreish.
Next up, some black cod, crayfish and crab gyoza. These were fine but didn’t excite me like everything else we had.
These are Wagyu beef and caviar gunkan. There aren’t many better mouthfuls of food in this world than these. If you didn’t know you were eating beef you could be fooled into thinking it was tuna. Perfectly soft tartare of the worlds most expensive beef, with seasoning coming from the worlds most expensive fish product. I wonder how much a take out of 12 of these would be! Onto the mains…
This dish of black cod has become a ubiquitous trademark of Japanese cuisine since Nobu introduced us to it. It is the actual fish that is black, black cod is a form of cod. The sweet yuzu marinade is then caramelised to give the dish it’s black edges. The last one we had was so sweet and heavy we weren’t yearning to have this ever again. Luckily this one hit all the right notes.
Shishito peppers. The vegetable course.
Lamb cutlets with Korean spices. They could have been Indian for all I care, nonetheless, delicious. Served with cucumber batons in a tahini sauce (Gomadare Sauce)
Duck with a kumquat compote. A lovely dish to satisfy us enough until the dessert boat arrived.
Well, dinner had been excellent and then this turned up. In the far distance the white ball was an out of this world coconut parfait with a passionfruit sauce in the middle. The chocolate square is their signature dessert a green tea fondant. I couldn’t taste any green tea, probably a could thing, it was essentially just a very liquid excellent fondant.
I don’t do enough restaurant reviews to have a merited system. I would give this 10/10 though. Food is brilliant, cocktails are good, there is fine wine by the glass and the restaurant is also beautiful. What more could anyone want!