Japanese: Roka

Posted by Krista on February 12, 2008

37 Charlotte St
020 7580 6464

Date of Last Visit: A random night in January

The Victim: Jeff

The Damage: A lot. Too much for two people eating and not drinking.

The Background: Richard and Rutton mention Roka enough that I notice it and want to go there. I am jealous when they mention it. Yes, I suffer from something I'll call "Restaurant Envy." If you go someplace good, interesting, delicious and fun…why is it that I am not invited? Hmmm.

So Jeff is open to Japanese. He's also pretty jet-lagged. So I feel awful for putting him on the 55 and dragging him across town. But he makes it through. He's a trooper. And he takes the bus home! Even more so.

The Entrance: Is cramped. There are a lot of people and it's not an entrance for a lot of people. We ditch our coats and Jeff leaves his luggage and we are shown two of the last seats at the bar. I like our spot at the bar because we are all the way at the other end, far away from the door. Not a whole lot of foot traffic.

The Service: Chaotic. We felt like we were speaking a foreign language. Jeff asks for some sparkling water with lime about eight times before our server understands him, and even then, I am not so sure. Well, I was right…he didn't really understand. After hours (it felt like hours), the sparkling water arrived…but no limes. And then hours later (really, hours…), the limes do arrive, and we get a huge bowl of them. OK, maybe not huge-huge, but huge enough.

Oh yes, and he didn't seem particularly happy that we weren't ordering alcohol. "Do you want a drink?" "Do you want a drink?" "Do you want the sommelier?" No, no, and for the thousandth time, NO. Just some green tea! Is that too much to ask?

The Food: Is good. It's fresh. Very fresh. And beautifully prepared and plated. As always, I'm writing this too far away from the meal and I can't remember what exactly we had, but we did order more and it was all quite quite good. The guy next to me got the ribs and they looked amazing. He told me later that he always comes in for the ribs. Must remember that for next time.

Ah wait…it's coming to me…pot stickers…veggie tempura…soft shell crab roll…all very very very good indeed.

The Verdict: I'd go back if I were dining with glamorous friends.

The Photo: I cannot take credit for this lovely photo. I found it on Flickr…it was taken by Purple Cloud, and she does some great stuff. Take a look when you get a chance.

2 Responses to “Japanese: Roka”

  1. Chris
    Feb 13, 2008

    I’ve decided this place is overrated too. Even worse is the pretentious bar downstairs which for some reason is famous for serving “molecular gastronomy” cocktails, but on the night I went seemed content with serving bog-standard offerings (warm martinis, etc) at inflated prices. I wouldn’t bother again.

  2. I love Roka! I’ve been a few times, for lunch, as it’s near work, and once for dinner. Soft shell crab roll was very good indeed! It’s easy to overspend there, but if you know your Japanese food, it’s a great place to eat.

    Helen Yuet Ling

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