Remember London by its fish – Roka

I was about to skip dinner (the full English breakfast lasted for a whole day!) when I discovered two highly rated Asian restaurants were within 5 minutes’ walk from my hotel. One of them is Chinese. The other Japanese. As my trip back to Shanghai is only a few weeks away, Japanese became an obvious choice.

And Roka did not disappoint. The restaurant was full on a Wednesday night. The center of the restaurant was the open kitchen. Sitting at the counter facing the kitchen, I could feel the excitement seeing fire jumping up on the grill and hearing the energetic chefs (5 of them, plus one coordinating the orders) acknowledging each order called out to them.

I ordered four small dishes to test – otoro for the fish quality, jumbo sweet shrimp sashimi with caviar for a treat, spinach with sesame dressing for the tradition, and home made tofu with water melon (a new item on the menu) for innovation.

Otoro came out as some of the best I had ever had, so was the ebi. Spinach was a totally surprise. Instead of boiled, the raw spinach leaves were stacked up in the center of the plate, surrounded by strings of carrot and shreds of daikon, spread on was the sesame dressing and the real sesame seeds. The cold tofu was soft in a broth with mixture of watermelon juice and sesame oil, served together with cherry tomatoes, green onions, water melon pieces, and surprisingly, thin slices of hot pepper. The whole meal’s taste was clean, yet interesting in a subtle way. One had to pay attention to taste the intricate flavors.

To complete the experience, the counter was made from raw wood, polished but with original wood pattern showing. And the ceramics were master pieces.

Thank you London, for the unique experience.

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