roka for contemporary japanese food
some of you may have heard of or eaten at zuma, the phenomenally popular and tres trendy japanese eatery in london. roka is the sister restaurant specialising in contemporary japanese robatayaki (open charcoal grill) cuisine. exotically marinated fresh vegetables, meats and seafood are perfectly scorched by expert chefs and beautifully served.
my dear friend uzra was visiting from the states. uzra graduated a few years after me at davidson and we've kept in touch over the years. it's been great that she was able to visit me in san francisco, new york and now london as well. i just had to plan a fun night out for her so i got a bunch of people together for dinner at roka followed by drinks at milk & honey, a private members club where my friend rutton booked a lovely table for a big group of eight. i wish some of uzra's work buddies were visiting as well. i've heard so many stories about the accenture crew. she said that you guys are a lot of fun and you read my blog?! a special shout out to you, especially OMAR who i am dying to meet!
we ordered various small and big plates since it was all family style. three dishes were outstanding. first, the yaki asparagus with sweet soy and sesame. i'm not a huge asparagus fan but the soy and the sesame really opened my eyes to the interesting texture and softness of this otherwise bland vegetable. second was ko nasu, eggplant in mirin, ginger and soy. this is probably the best eggplant dish i've ever had. it just melted in my mouth and had a wonderfully tangy aftertaste from the ginger which had me craving for more and more. third was a rice hot pot with assorted mushrooms. it was just so different to have a hot rice dish at a japanese restaurant.
try to get a seat downstairs where all the action is. there's a lovely central bar around which all the tables are situated. the atmosphere is strangely very happening while being very romantic as well - lush red interiors, candlelight everywhere, exotic drinks....you get the picture! quite a lovely combo if you're out to have fun as a couple.