Restaurant Review: Roka Canary Wharf, 40 Canada Square in London
Roka is a stunning restaurant in Canary Wharf, which serves contemporary robatayaki Japanese cuisine. The name literally translates to ‘fireside cooking’ and the eatery is situated on the first floor of a building on Charlotte Square, in the heart of the finance district. Canary Wharf is one of London’s key luxury destinations and the Canary Wharf restaurant has just launched their new Terrace, which has a backdrop to the dramatic skyline of the ever-evolving area and has a rotating Japanese Botanical Garden planned throughout 2016. Roka have 4 restaurants across London.
On arrival my guest, Theo and I were immediately impressed with the dining area; it was elegant, with high ceilings, muted colours, soft woods and dimmed lights. There was an excited buzz in the restaurant and the mood felt energetic and alive. The grill is a prominent feature of the room and enables the guests to watch their food being cooked, which all adds to the dining experience.
We were seated and our waitress, Julia, introduced herself and we were brought hot towels to cleanse our hands before dining. Julia asked us if we would like anything particular from the menu or whether we were happy to have a selection of dishes of the chef’s choosing. We decided on the chef’s choice but told her about our love of sashimi and also Theo requested a scallop dish.
We were then shown the wine list and offered a glass of champagne, which we of course could not refuse! The drinks menu was extensive and, naturally, included a large selection of sake. Prices ranged from £47 to £195 for a bottle of sake and from £36 to £1950 for wine/champagne.
We started with yellow tail sashimi with jalepeno and yuzo and I have never tasted sashimi as fresh. It had such clean flavours, with a hint of spice and ended up being Theo’s favourite dish. Miso soup was next and this too was delicious, then edame beans. The dishes then just kept coming and we had a sashimi platter that was presented on a fabulous block of ice and consisted of brill, salmon and tuna, tuna tartare with caviar and yellow tail. This was accompanied with fresh wasabi, that was out of this world, and seaweed crisps and this dish was truly outstanding.
The dishes just kept on coming and there were too many to go in to too much detail! We had lobster with lime and picked ginger, butterfish with white asparagus with a soy and ginger dressing, spicy salmon maki with a smoked wagu beef, tuna and wasabi but found the wasabi too strong for us in this dish. This was then followed by an exquisite langoustine and crab tempura with a wonderful crispy batter and accompanied by a spicy mayonnaise. Next was Theo’s order of scallops and these were cooked to perfection and had a wonderful smoky flavour. Julia then brought us iberico pork which was so flavoursome and melted in the mouth, this was accompanied by a tangy mustard sauce presented on a beautiful wooden spoon. At this point we were getting full but pushed on for the last few courses!
Next was fried tofu with mushrooms but we both found this quite greasy and I am not keen on the ‘squishy’ texture of tofu, this was followed by a delicious baked black cod that was cooked perfectly and marinated in yuzu miso. Finally, we were presented with the Roka mini dessert platter. This consisted of delightful little balls of ice creams and sorbets, a selection of exotic fruits and a dark chocolate and green tea pudding, which was the star of the show for me. The chocolate sponge was so light and, when you dipped your spoon into it, the green tea pudding oozed out and was the most fabulous dark green colour.
Throughout the evening, Luca, our sommelier ensured we were never without a drink. We shared a carafe of white house wine, which had rich aromas of honey and tropical fruits while apples, melon and vanilla oak tantalized the palate. I ordered an espresso martini, which definitely hit the spot and is my favourite cocktail! With dessert we had a glass of sake, which had a very smooth flavour and finished off the meal perfectly.
Overall our dining experience was fantastic, I absolutely love this restaurant, as did Theo, “can I live here” he remarked. The food was outstanding, as was the service and the attentive, friendly staff. The décor was modern and luxurious and being able to watch the food being cooked on the grill was a delightful experience. I will be visiting this restaurant again very soon.
Address: 4, Park Pavilion, 40 Canada Square, London E14 5FW / 020 7636 5228