Two strikes out of three. The two places I have usually depended on for decent Asian fare have both disappointed me. I am not sure what made me think why I would go for a third consecutive Asian meal – was it my belief in the saying ‘third time is the charm?’ or was it because I was craving for good Asian food so bad that I was willing to gamble the possibility of a third unsatisfactory meal?
I guess we upped the stakes this time by going to Roka, a Japanese robatayaki (contemporary barbecue) restaurant. Roka is definitely in another league of its own- we could already judge just by the décor and clientele. To our relief, the food was as well. The only unhappy customer at the end of the evening was our wallets as Roka is no means cheap – so I would consider visiting Roka only really for special dining occasions.
Sashimi selection a la carte
Each order included three slices: salmon (2 orders), shrimp, and my favourite, hamachi. The fish tasted fresh. The salmon was melt in your mouth good, the shrimp was sweet and the hamachi had a good citrus twang at the end. My only critique would be the wasabi- it was not strong enough as both my brother and Iwere gathering heapfuls into our soya sauce just to get enough flavour.
Grilled portobello mushrooms with sesame dressing
This dish was a letdown. The mushrooms were under-seasoned and lacking in any flavour at all. As they were grilled, they became very dry and you miss the juiciness that usually comes when easting a cooked portabello mushroom.
Gyu sumibiyaki to negidare
The ribeye beef was amazing. The burnt ends from the charcoal grill were the best bits, and the beef was cooked perfectly medium rare allowing for the wonderful beef flavours to saturate the mouth with every chew.
Tori No kamameshi
This was a rice hot pot contianing cripsy soy chicken and shittake mushrooms. It had a similar consistency to congee, a Chinese styled rice porridge. The rice was mixed with miso paste and the flavours were delicious.
Unfortunately what killed the dish was that it was too salty, otherwise we could have happily devoured the entire portion and ordered another.
Last time I came to Roka, I remember their desserts were outstanding as well – a unique fusion of East and Western flavours. Since we were all quite full from the meal, we decided to order one from the menu to share.
Chocolate to Maccha Pudding, Yo- Nashi Aisu
The chocolate fondant was heavenly. The fondant was warm and indulgent, with an oozing green tea lava centre as you cut into its soft centre. It was served with pear ice cream which provided a refresher to the palette as the fondant can be quite rich after a few mouthfuls.
We wanted more dessert, but at the same time since my brother was pressed for time to catch his train, we decided to put our gluttony aside and save it for our next visit to Roka.
After two unsuccessful meals, we were quite happy with Roka which finally managed to satisfy the Asian craving for the time being. I would gladly visit again to sample more of their robata/ grilled meats section and desserts.
“Pull up a chair. Take a taste. Come join us. Life is so endlessly delicious.”
― Ruth Riechl