Rainer Becker, a German-born chef, opened Roka on Charlotte Street in 2004 after the success of his first culinary adventure in London, Zuma. Since then Roka has turned into an award winning chain with locations in key areas of London. Rainer is continuing his culinary adventure globally and has opened restaurants all over the world as well a third one in London called Oblix in The Shard.
Roka specialises in robatayaki cuisine from the robata grill which originates from fishermen of the northern coastal waters of Japan. The fishermen would cook with different charcoals and share food with each other using their oars.
I visited Roka Aldwych (the newest addition to the Roka family – opened in 2014) with a couple of friends for Sunday brunch.
Firstly, I would like to point out the excellent service from the booking process until leaving the restaurant. The staff were friendly, professional and very attentive. I notified the restaurant of our dietary requirements when I made the reservation – we had a vegetarian, a pescatarian and a carnivore. Roka emailed me details of which vegetarian substitutes we could have beforehand and were very accommodating.
The han setto menu includes a large selection of small sharing starters, a main meal, a dessert platter, a Bellini (flavour of the day) and unlimited wine. This was more than enough to send us into a food coma!
We arrived at Roka on Sunday afternoon around 1pm and were warmly welcomed. The restaurant was fairly quiet when we arrived. It became a lot busier as the afternoon progressed with the steady flow of Sunday brunchers arriving. The restaurant had a great ambience with sleek and elegant décor. The open kitchen is centre stage with lots of surrounding tables allowing the diners to observe the chefs at work. I always love open kitchens because I’m nosey and like to have a peak at the food being prepared!
Han setto brunch
Small sharing plates:
We started with a refreshing pineapple Bellini and edamame beans. The tasty rock salt sprinkled over them gave the beans a kick.
Tempura no moriawase – Vegetable Tempura – The vegetables included sweet potatoes and greens. The batter coating the veggies was surprisingly light for a fried dish. The tempura came with a selection of tasty sauces.
Potato and egg salad (usually comes with bacon but we had it without this) – This was a cold salad with small chunks of perfectly boiled potato and a creamy egg mash garnished with herbs. Very good!
Avocado sushi– This was yummy. Avocado sushi has really grown on me and I particularly like the small maki style.
Tomato no salada- This included red, green and yellow tomatoes in a refreshing shiso and hijiki dressing. Looked pretty and was nice to try because I’m not usually someone who gets salads at brunch!
Horenso no goma ae salada – Spinach salad – A hearty pile of baby spinach drizzled with a delicious nutty sauce and sesame seeds. Popeye would be very happy, I sure was!
Kinoko no kamameshi – Mushroom hot pot- The waiter brought this over in a mysterious wooden box and stirred it thoroughly mixing together all the rich flavours. The hot pot was essentially a sticky risotto with different styles of mushrooms. Very flavoursome and worth trying but quite heavy. I would recommend sharing this. It’s quite a lot for one person (and I’m a big eater) after the starters and it’s very rich.
A vibrant and beautifully presented selection of treats served on a big bowl of crushed ice. The platter included sorbets, truffles, a chocolate and almond Buddha, fruit and many more delights. My sweet tooth was more than satisfied!
Summary: A fun sophisticated dining experience with a broad selection of delicious contemporary Japanese dishes. Amazing service and very accommodating to vegetarians if substitutes are required for the brunch menu. The han setto weekend brunch at Roka Aldwych (usually £39.00 or £55.00 with unlimited wine) is a great way to taste a variety of the food the restaurant has to offer. Arrive hungry! The other Roka restaurants offer different brunch menus and the tasting menus are also a great way to try a selection of dishes.
Reservations: It’s possible to reserve a table for up to 5 guests online or you can call/email the restaurant directly. I emailed the restaurant to book a table.
Locations: Aldwych, Canary Wharf, Charlotte Street, Mayfair.
Perfect for: A special lunch/dinner with friends or family, date night.