Roka ‘never fails to deliver', insists a fervent admirer of this Japanese heavyweight, which is currently closing in on its first decade as a Charlotte Street hotspot. Dressed from head-to-toe in knotty wood (rather like a giant sauna), the interior is dominated by an open robata grill – a central counter where energetic chefs fire up ‘works of art' before a rapt audience. Savour the meaty magnificence of kankoku fu kohitsuji (lamb cutlets cooked with Korean spices), the subtleties of yaki hotate (scallop skewers with wasabi and shiso) and other memorable flavours from the flames. Novices should heed ‘instructive' advice from the attentive staff – otherwise, check out some of most ‘beautifully plated' raw fish in town, such as yellowtail sashimi with truffle yuzu dressing, mizuna and pickled vegetables. A superb selection of saké and some fascinating international wines match the food to a T. Not surprisingly, prices can quickly tot up, but most reckon it's ‘money well spent'.
Roka’s attempt to make its wine list accessible stood out for two reasons. Firstly, the wines have been chosen with great care to suit the challenges of Japanese food; secondly, the unfussy presentation with reds and whites split by style (‘fruity and velvety’, ‘rich and spicy’, and so on). Even though there’s a lot going on, with ‘Sommelier Selections’ and a ‘Wish List’ of fine wines, it’s easy to navigate.
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