About Time: You Brunched at ROKA AldwychBy Alicia Grimshaw
Roka is stylish, classy and delicious in equal measures. Take your mum, and she’d be over the moon. Take your friends, and they’d be happy. Take a date, and they’d be elated. You know what – take anyone and they’d be ecstatic.
Roka has four outposts across London; Charlotte Street, Mayfair, Aldwych and Canary Wharf. I’d recommend you swerve the Canary Wharf branch on weekends, unless you want to drown in a sea of Lipsy dresses, the TOWIE lot, and body con skirts. There’s far too much flammable material in one place. While the Charlotte Street branch lends itself to post-work cocktails, and late night dinners – The Aldwych branch is where you want to hang out on weekends. Their new brunch menu is a kaleidoscope of Japanese classics and pan Asian delights, and is a refreshing to change to the avocado on toast calvary charge.
If you fancy ditching the hollandaise sauce in favour of something a little bit different, I can’t recommend Roka enough. Enough with the chit chat – here’s what you need to know:
Roka Aldwych: The Lowdown
Roka Alydwch is beautiful, airy and stylish – this is the kind of place that pleases all. Sushi fan or not, you can’t help but fall in love with the interiors. The decor is sharp; clean lines, contemporary art and floor to ceiling wooden cladding. The restaurant boasts a central bar, an open kitchen, and a robata grill station. Just by Covent Garden, it’s ideally placed for a Sunday potter, and exploring the shops nearby.
Roka Aldwych: The Food
News flash: this is not your classic brunch. There’s no granola, porridge or eggs four ways. If you fancy any of the above, grab you coat and scarf, and head down the road. In fact, you don’t miss them, as in their place is unbelievable meat dishes, fantastic sushi and super fresh sashimi.
The han setto brunch has been designed for sharing – with the starters including no less than 10 small plates. One of our favourites was the spicy mixed sashimi with cucumber and asparagus – the spicy sauce gave great depth and bite to the dish, and the sashimi was wonderfully fresh. The avocado and gobo maki with crispy rice were delightful; hefty chunks of avocado, lightly topped with mayonnaise and encased in sticky rice. These little morsels were ludicrously good.
And the assorted vegetable and prawn tempura delivered too. Light battered crunchy vegetables seem a bit of a cop out, but they were a surprising hit. No fuss, no frills – just quality prawns covered in a light batter. The pork and prawn dumplings exploded with molten meat and fishy goodness, and the robata vegetables with sweet yuzu miso were another crowd-pleasing favourite. Think you’ve eaten the best sweet potato, think again.
Moving onto the mains – it’s one dish per person. Although the glazed baby back ribs with cashew nuts were lauded by the waitress (believe me, they were really good – sweet, sticky and just the right amount of crunch), I would say the beef sirloin triumphed in the meat stakes. The beef was beyond tender, and beautifully cooked. The handful of chilli and spring onion added fresh and zingy notes to the meat.
The baby chicken was another tasty revelation. A light marinade of lemon, miso and garlic soy really set the whole dish off. The grill section was good, if not better than their sushi offering, and we were very much ok with that.
If meat isn’t your bag, the main menu also features salmon fillet teriyaki with sansho salt, and sea bream fillet, ryotei miso and red onion. Both were excellent.
Asian cuisine isn’t know for its dessert, let’s be honest. Red bean paste and other savoury items don’t really scream ‘sweet and delicous’. However, like a batism of fire, Roka rises with an almighty pud selection: their very own dessert platter. Think classy tiki party, if there ever was such a thing. The platter includes a plethora of exotic fruits (dragon fruit, lychee and star fruit), and endless varieties of other citrus numbers. The chocolate buddha was a highlight – as the name suggests it was chocolate shaped into a buddha, but it was so damn good. The peanut butter crunch pot was everything you’d ever want in a dessert. Peanut butter. Chocolate. Ice cream. And the fruity panna cotta was a refreshing relief to the rich chocolate.
Roka Aldwych: The Verdict
Sure, sushi may not be the most obvious brunch choice, but sometimes you need to break from the norm and swap your sourdough for sticky rice. Is it worth your time? Yes. Is it worth your money? Absolutely. Take our word for it – it’s about time you brunched at Roka.