I was very pleased when my boyfriend Matt surprised me with dinner at ROKA for my birthday. Admittedly, I’d heavily hinted I’d like to go for a Japanese meal – but ROKA had been on my ‘to dine at’ list for ages and I hadn’t expected it! There are a few ROKA chains in London, all very high-end and classy Japanese restaurants, so here’s my review for the Aldwych branch.
If you’re in need of a venue for a special occasion, like a birthday or anniversary – ROKA will serve you well. It’s romantically lit, you can watch the chefs preparing food at the open grill and the staff are very friendly. Armed with bottles of wine and champagne, we went to town with the menu – for the sake of the blog, of course.
The absolute must-get starter for me was the black cod, crab and crayfish dumplings, which is seriously the best dish I’ve eaten in London so far this year. We also wolfed down the rock shrimp tempura with wasabi pea seasoning and chilli mayo, and salmon sashimi, which were both delicious. If you only go for one starter – I’d recommend either the dumplings or rock shrimp tempura as these are things you don’t get in every Japanese restaurant.
The robata grill is also a good place to go for the main courses. The spicy beef and shishito pepper skewers are gorgeous (these were Matt’s favourite) but my other highlight of the evening was the sweet potato mash, which was well-presented but more importantly melt-in-your-mouth a-ma-zing. I can’t see it on ROKA’s menu online now, but I’d still ask for it if you go.
Finally, you know I’d never skip dessert, even though we were very full by this point. The dark chocolate and green tea pudding is the envy of all desserts (imagine the world’s best melt-in-the-middle pudding) and the peanut, vanilla and chocolate sundae with sesame poki sticks came with a candle and cute chocolate-written birthday message. The desserts usually make the meal for me, and this was no exception. Just look at that matcha melting out of that chocolate pudding – look at it!
While ROKA isn’t the cheapest place to eat, it’s certainly special. I recommend booking in advance, asking for a table facing the grill so you can see the chefs at work, and splashing out so you can enjoy as much of the menu as possible. ROKA Aldwych could well be the blog’s restaurant of the year, and we’re only in May…