A couple of weeks ago we went to ROKA Charlotte St. a superb Japanese Izakaya western twisted cuisine restaurant in London, just a five minutes walk from Goodge Street Tube station, it was totally sugoi!!!!
Upon arrival, the staff welcomes you with a nice and lovely smile, since the moment we got in, the service was wonderful, very discreet and attentive from the beginning, everybody is friendly and will do anything they can to improve your experience in a crowded but at the same time relaxed ambience, with nice music and dime romantic lights, loud and clear enough to have a conversation and read the menu without any trouble.
There are two areas, downstairs where you could find their amazing Shochu lounge, here you may enjoy a nice Japanese or classic cocktails with some Nihon tapas, or one of the 50 different references of Whiskies they have from the rising sun's country, among other interesting things, before you go upstairs to have your meal.
The main attraction is the Robata bar island, in the middle of the room, which allows you to observe the skills of the chefs and obviously their show cooking with some Japanese shouting orders, and at the same time it guarantee the freshness of every single ingredient and of course that they make everything at the moment, for me is the best place to seat.
What an impressing meal, absolutely everything was prepared and presented more than very well with a perfect timings of serving, our table was always with food on it. We went for omakase style, Daniel one of the managers looked after us, and together with the waiter did the unforgettably order for us, excepting for the salty edamame and sakemaki or salmon hosomaki for my daughter, I ordered for her, she cannot visit a Japanese restaurant without eating it.
We started with the aburi sake tataki with ponzu sesame out of this world dressing and very crispy sweet potato, fantastic balance between acidity and creaminess, very light but flavorful at the same time, we just loved it. One of the best western twist salmon tataki I ever had. The deep fried Nasu (eggplant) salad with sesame miso dressing and bonito flakes, really surprised me, the texture was firm, I couldn't feel any oil at all, the touch of the spring onion, miso and katsobushi gave it the perfect combination for a nice umami, it melted in my mouth. At the same time we had a crispy soft shell crab tempura in ponzu sauce with shichimi togarashi shiso, kizami nori and some arare, it was sublime, but the jewel-like squid tataki with yuzu shallot dressing was even better. The Scallops from the robata served with a wasabi and shiso cream and the tenderstem broccoli with ginger and moromi miso were delicious too.
Regarding the sushi, I must say the sashimi moriawase was one of the best ever in a long time, they offer different sizes depending on amount of persons, you will always have a selection of sashimi chosen by the chef, usually sake and toro are fixed included, there were hotate (scallops), lobster sashimi with different dressings (depends on season) this time was Mandarin Koshu, salmon tatar, hamachi, sea bream and ama ebi with imperial osietra caviar, all of it with nama wasabi, the fish was unquestionably of the highest grade and well execute, more than oishii. Unfortunately the maki selection was not at the same level, the ingredients and fusion were more than ok, but the quality of the rice was not the proper one, was too dry, however the temperature and the flavor was very good, my favorite was the wagyu tempura maki, quite impressive and nice move.
At least but not less important we enjoyed the tai no miso-yaki which is a fantastic sea bream fillet with miso and red pickled onion The fish was cooked perfectly, falling off with ease and silky soft inside, the taste of the miso was amazing, this dish impressed me a lot, it was a clear example that sometimes less is more.
If you were waiting for the sweet part, let me tell you that the dessert platter was 100 times Sugoi!!!!! I do not know how to start, lets see.... It was a simply beautiful plate with assorted of exotic fruits with some real good ice creams, a lovely soft and warm dark chocolate brownie with a surprise viscous green tea pudding fondant inside, had a peanut, vanilla and chocolate sundae with sesame poki sticks and banana tempura, this one was my favorite, but the coconut and passion parfait, pineapple and kiwi fruit simply blowed my daughter's mind away.
Address: 37 Charlotte Street
London W1T 1RR