When the opportunity to try the younger sibling of Zuma comes knocking, the answer is never going to be no! Much like it's world renowned counterpart, Roka, since opening a few years ago, has established itself as one of the hottest spots in London, playing host to the rich and famous. Launched by Executive Chef and Zuma owner Rainer Becker, the trendy eatery stands by his ethos of serving 'authentic not traditional' cuisine, which now encompasses the four restaurants in London, including Roka Mayfair on North Audley Street, our home for the evening.
It's not ostentatious from the outside, with a subtle terrace sitting below black signage, however, from the moment you enter the doors, you can tell that the restaurant theme is Japanese cuisine, with flaming robata grills sizzling away in the open kitchen, a sea of waiters serving delicacies from Black Cod to Tuna Tartare and a string of specialised sushi chefs slicing sashimi for all to see. Seating surrounds the grill and, although there are tables for larger parties, the duos and singles are normally placed here, giving them a ringside seat to the sizzling action.
The signature Soft Shell Crab
The slick interiors reflect the contemporary and innovative dishes through a sea of wooden tables, walls, chairs and ceiling with spotlights highlighting the food below. The ceiling is cleverly carved in a series of lines adding an extra dimension to the room. The terrace is great for a summers day, continuing the same stylish theme.
Even though the setting plays a big part of the experience at Roka, the food is the main reason why I would go back time and time again. The menu is vast but don't let that put you off - any uncertainties can always be answered by the team of helpful waiters and waitresses. Split into bite-size sections, the menu covers snacks and warm bites, salads, robata dishes, Roka dishes, sashimi and maki rolls.
The delicious Tuna Tartare
First-timers can always opt for the popular taste menu, which although expensive, will take them on a tour through the best of Roka. Those feeling a little more adventurous can tuck straight into a la carte and pick from the excellent selection of innovative options, made up of fresh ingredients carefully selected from the finest sources. The 'goma fumi no horenso salada', spinach leaves and sesame dressing, is a must try whilst the signature tiger prawn tempura will subside all cravings. The sushi and sashimi selection all looked fantastic but the 'maguro to caviar no tartar' aka tuna tartare was a personal favourite. We also tried the black cod marinated in yuzu miso and the pure breed japanese wagyu A4 with eryngii mushrooms and wasabi ponzu, both of which were fantastic. Failing to have any room left, we gave the hot pots a miss, but the rice hot pot with japanese mushrooms on the next door table looked delicious - something to save for next time.