Japanese Food to ROKA Your World, Canary Wharf
July 4, 2016
If you asked me to name my top five favourite restaurants, ROKA would be right up there. Following in the footsteps of Zuma’s success, this award-winning chain of Japanese restaurants are everything I love about eating out.
ROKA, Canary Wharf is the perfect example of a restaurant which just seems to be doing everything right. Their ‘sharing’ ethos is at the centre – with the robata grill a central design feature in each restaurant. This concept, which works so well at ROKA, is a contemporary take on the way fishermen off the northern coast of Japanused to eat – cooking their fish on the boats using different charcoals and then sharing them with each other using their oars.
And so, when you eat at ROKA, you’re in for something very special, because not only are you sharing delicious plates of food with your friends, but you’re part of a much bigger shared experience, enjoying the delights and embracing the energy of the restaurant along with every other person dining there!
You can see all of ROKA’S delicious robatayaki cuisine being prepared right in front of you and while this acts as theatre in itself, the real show is when the food is brought to your table. Every single dish is a work of art – ROKA, reminiscent of an art gallery – except instead of inviting you to open your mind to new abstracts, this stylish, contemporary restaurant opens your mind to tastes and flavours.
So what to eat?! The set tasting menu comes highly recommended. Steamed edamame beans with butter and a sharp kick from the sea salt are a definite winner while you’re deciding what to choose. One of the best starters on the menu has to be the yellowtail sashimi with yuzu truffle dressing, mizuna and pickled veg (Kampachi Sashimi no Salada) – you can expect an explosion of flavour as the earthy notes of the truffle mix with the acidic juice of the yuzu, which is a traditional Japanese citrus fruit packed with zing!
Other stand out dishes include the California Maki – crab, avocado, yuzu mayonnaise and tobiko. Yes they’re California rolls, but there’s something just a little bit special about them. One of my absolute favourite dishes of the night was the black cod marinated in yuzu miso (Gindara no Saikyo-Yaki) – you might’ve guessed I’m a huge fan of yuzu, but the butter soft cod with just a hint of that beautifully smoked flavour is just something else.
Finally, if you come to ROKA and don’t order from the tasting menu, then you must try the Tokusen Australian no Gyu Niki anyway – a 290 day grain fed black angus ribeye with erynii mushrooms and wasabi ponzu. A to-die-for dish, which, served with an exceptional sake, makes for the most perfect dish.
Speaking of which, you really have to try the sake for the ultimate Japanese experience. The fabulous sommelier Chee (if you’re at the Canary Wharf restaurant), knows everything there is to know about rice wine. We literally sat in awe while he talked us through each one on the menu, explaining every step in the process from the harvest, through to the distillation and how ROKA actually selects the particular sake’s which appear on their amazing menu. We’d recommend the Mashumi Arabashiri – our favourite of the night. A ‘first run’ sake, this rice wine tastes fresh and clean and has a big flavour profile. Meanwhile, if you’re drinking champagne, then Jerry is your guy.. And on the night we visited, manager Stephan was the ultimate host – making us feel like the only guests in his restaurant, which was actually buzzing with customers!
With ROKA on my hit list for many years, yet having never been, the food surpassed all of my expectations, while the bustling atmosphere really added to the vibe. Being surrounded by people who have a true love of food and a shared appreciation for the effort that goes into preparing dishes in this way is a real treat.
From the lighting to the great centrepiece grill, to the staff and their apparent love for what they do, you really should invest in a night out at ROKA Canary Wharf. An elegance and art captured through food.
As if you need any more persuading, just take a look at this amazing dessert platter – Chocolate to Maccha Pudding, Yo-Nashi Aisu) which includes dark chocolate and green tea pudding, sakura creme brûlée, almond creme brûlée, cherry blossom ice cream and sesame biscuit with fresh fruit and sorbet
ROKA has also just launched a unique pairing experience at Mayfair and Canary Wharf educating enthusiasts about Japanese flavours through food pairings with sake, schochu and wine. You’re just in time for the wine paring on the terrace at ROKA Canary Wharf on 6th July, while there’s a sake session on 5th September at ROKA Mayfair. £90pp, including arrival drinks, ROKA menu and pairing experience.
As if you need any more persuading, just take a look at this amazing dessert platter – Chocolate to Maccha Pudding, Yo-Nashi Aisu) which includes dark chocolate and green tea pudding, sakura creme brûlée, almond creme brûlée, cherry blossom ice cream and sesame biscuit with fresh fruit and sorbet.