Some things in life are just impossible to have too much of. Hugs, for example, I could have all day every day, but that “work” thing, it gets in the way. Japanese food, especially good Japanese food is another example. I could eat that all day every day too, but again work gets in the way.
Lucky for me, there are those “after hours” hours, when work is put aside and whims are satisfied to within an inch of my life. I get hugs and I get food and damned if I can’t have them both at the same time.
But sometimes, I turn my selfishness down a notch and sacrifice one for the other. Lately, it seems I’ve been sacrificing hugs for good Japanese grub what with hitting Izaka-ya by Katsu-ya with the gorgeous LA ladies, and more recently, a new year tweat-up reunion at Roka Restaurant, back in London-town.
Roka is damn good.
So without much further ado, let’s get into the food, because really, that’s what we’re all here for.
We skipped Roka‘s tasting menu offers (£50 or £75) and opted for a la carte for no other reason except that we wanted more dishes to take photos of. Seriously. We are food bloggers afterall.
Kicking off the night was the avocado maki, which is just avocado maki in the end but still, not bad. It was paired though with tuna tempura roll, which despite also effectively being just a tuna maki battered and fried, tasted uniquely delicious and the little piece of sour I-can’t-remember-what in the middle gave it an edge which totally differentiated it from just another maki roll.
Two thumbs up, we’re off to a good start.
Following the maki rolls, the ante was bumped up a notch with the raw food, and at a good Japanese venue, raw food is where it’s at.
We had the butterfish carpaccio which tastes exactly how it sounds. Butter. Fish. Smooth. Silky. Soft. The description is sounding much like my orgasmic recount of toro from my last post, and while they’re different (toro is velvet where as this is silk) they both rocked my epicurean world.
The tuna tartar came out with an itsy bitsy quail egg and while this was a profoundly difficult dish to share (1. take a spoon 2. scoop some tartar 3. now drip some quail egg on it but wait! don’t take too much!) we managed and once again, superfine tuna tartar, topped with raw egg and a sprinkling of sevruga caviar.
Ooh la la, mamacita.
After the “raw stuff”, we started on the “cooked stuff”, including grilled asparagus off the robata, rice hot pot with mushrooms, and the trusty gyoza.
These dishes were all good. Maybe not you know, I’d sacrifice my first born kind of good but remember, I did sacrifice hugs for it, and I would do it again.
We ordered a bunch of stuff off the robata menu, starting with the baby back ribs which if you held a gun to my head, or ok maybe just if you asked me very nicely which was my least favourite dish of the night? I would discretely point in its direction.
It looked good. And believe me, it smelled great. But rightly or wrongly I’ve come to expect baby back ribs to be cooked so well that meat just falls off with a gentle prod, but sadly the meat here was a little tough, a little dry and dare I offer my completely unsubstantiated insight, probably a little over cooked.
But never mind, there were other dishes and there were saviours.
The smoked duck, lean as duck breast can possibly be, was grilled to medium rare perfection and paired with, again I forget what, but something tangy (I want to say tangerine but what I want to say is often embarrassingly incorrect) ~ whatever, it worked.
But as good as the duck was, it wasn’t my favourite dish. Dude, it wasn’t even my second favourite dish.
The runner up prize goes to the grilled scallops with ponzu; poked by individual bamboo sticks, we nicknamed them scallop pops. Cos we’re funny like that.
And the winner for the night? The goddamn mutha-effin’ lamb cutlets (when a dish is this good, you can cuss all you like, your ticket to fairy floss heaven is secured by the mere fact that you even touched these chops, let alone digest one. Or two. I mean really, two. You’re a god).
Oh and it’s served with a peanut coated cucumber jenga tower. Totally awesome.
As if I hadn’t already been swept away by the deliciousness, I now bid my former self adieu as I move into a realm not yet uncovered ~ Roka desserts. Holy heck, I’m excited.
Last time we skipped dessert because my friend Helen and I had baked some stuff at home. Now, please excuse the French but fruck me, I gave up Roka desserts for my own dessert?? REALLY? And no one stopped me? You guys are all whack.
Anyway, this time, I knew better.
We ordered five separate desserts, every one tasty and insanely beautiful in their own right.
The peanut, vanilla & chocolate tsubo, a pot of rich dark chocolate paired with poki sticks *too cute*.
The mango & almond cake, a warm pudding paired with miso ice cream and an ever picturesque slice of dried radish.
The mango & passionfruit tomago, my pick (and proudly so), a fascinating snowball of coconut ice cream encasing a rich mango syrup which oozes out like a sweet lava.
The sobacha creme brulee, seemingly the plainest choice of dessert but the texture? More like a freshly baked egg tart, the creme a delicate concoction of egg custard.
And lastly but so very not leastly, the chocolate & matcha pudding, again appearing ever so ordinary but look at the insides. Slimer. Baked.
Anyway, I’m done with sacrificing hugs for Japanese food. This weekend I’m bringing my selfish back and going on a date with my man at none other than Dinings restaurant. Oh yes, don’t tell me you’ve forgotten that post about vampires and wagyu beef.
Hugs and good Japanese. This is the life.
37 Charlotte Street
London, W1T 1RR
0207 580 6464