Aldwych is fast becoming a foodie haven with more and more fine dining restaurants settling into an area that previously was little more than office space! ROKA is the latest addition to the area and what a welcome addition it is. ROKA Aldwych, is located at No. 71 Aldwych, moments away from the Strand, the River Thames and Somerset House, and is the second London opening this year, marking the 10-year anniversary of Rainer Becker’s flagship on Charlotte Street (four in total in London now – Mayfair, Canary Wharf, Charlotte St and Aldwych).
We started our culinary experience with a few delicious cocktails at the bar, starting our night with a fig manhattan and a rose petal martini followed by a perfectly named ROKA classic ‘twinkle’ and a Ollie Hampton (bar manager) special Sirena (which means mermaid) paired with a polynesian inspired yellow tail sashimi. This was from the Tropical Japanese Potions element of the menu which had just been judged for the 2015 World Class awards.
The bar staff were friendly and helpful when we struggled to pick our favourites from their extensive list – we were spoilt for choice and they were spot on with their recommendations every time. Impressed we were escorted to our table, at the chef’s table, overlooking the kitchen, where we could watch the chefs hard at work preparing mouth-watering dishes. Our waiter helped us pick a selection of dishes from the tasting and seasonal menu; we started our journey into the world of Japanese robatayaki cuisine with the most perfect yellowtail sashimi salad we’ve ever tasted. Melt in your mouth good, we followed this with a platter of sashimi that included a selection of yellowtail, salmon and tuna tartare with a quail’s egg which we washed down with a super light (azure) sake – the perfect accompaniment. We also tried the ROKA signature rock shrimp tempura, seared beef strip loin with black truffle dressing, cucumber, daikon pickle and miso tapico crisp and the most amazing yellowfin tuna tataki with apple mustard dressing we think was the best we ever tasted. Appetisers done which to be honest were a meal within themselves we moved on to the main event; smoked duck breast with barley miso and kumquats, sea bream fillet, ryotei miso and red onion which was beautiful and a fantastic alternative to black cod. Chargrilled asparagus and broccoli completed our main. Taking a little breather we moved our attention back to the drinks opting for more sake and some prosecco. Full as we were there was no way we were leaving without dessert and upon recommendation we opted for the dessert boat – a selection of a warm chocolate fondant filled with oozing green tea centre (yum), fresh tropical fruit including star fruit, dragon fruit and rambutan (yum), papaya and raspberry sorbets and a cheesecake ice cream (yum, yum, yum!) It would have been rude not to have sampled this heavenly offering. Bellies full we were now ready to roll out of Aldwych as gracefully as possible considering how much we had consumed.
We’ve been to the ROKA at Charlotte St before and love everything about it but this one for us was even more impressive, everything from the water feature inspired by Japan’s Yaeyama tropical islands to the wooden ceiling to the jars at the back of the room that we were told will have sake for customers to order. For this project, founder Rainer Becker teamed up with acclaimed Italian designer, Claudio Silvestrin and the outcome is a fantastic relaxed but dynamic atmosphere that stays true to the ROKA aesthetics.