This year, Roka - the Japanese robatayaki restaurant from chef Rainer Becker and business partner Arjun Waney - celebrates 20 years since it first launched on London’s Charlotte Street. 20 years of exceptional dining will be marked with a series of celebratory menus that see some of Roka’s best-loved dishes from the past 20 years return.
Designed around a central robata, Roka encourages guests to experience the art of ‘robatayaki’ cuisine - the Japanese method originating from the ancient traditions of Japanese fishermen. The robata is at the heart of every Roka restaurant, allowing guests to watch dishes being prepared and cooked over coal, first hand.
Co-founder of Azumi Ltd and creator of the Roka concept, Rainer Becker became fascinated with the complexity of the textures and flavours of Japanese cuisine during his time spent living in Tokyo and “Twenty years on our menus are still authentic to the Roka story, we aim to strike a balance with the clean Japanese cooking techniques that piqued my early interest - beautiful fresh sashimi, and of course robata grilled meats but after 20 years of experimenting our dishes really are reflective of what our customers keep returning for” says Becker.
Since the Charlotte Street opening, Becker and Waney have expanded the Roka Group to include three further London restaurants: Canary Wharf, Mayfair, and Aldwych. Internationally, Dubai, Riyadh, Jeddah, Mallorca, Istanbul, Kuwait, Bahrain and billed for the 20th anniversary year, Santorini.
To celebrate 20 years, Roka will bring back some of the best dishes from menus over the last 20 years, seasonally, across the year. The specials will launch in all Roka London restaurants in January, April, July, and October. Menus feature Roka namesakes, from robata-grilled meats to immaculately presented sushi and sashimi and fragrant desserts, bringing an element of nostalgia for longtime Roka fans and an induction into the hall of fame for those dining for the first time. Dishes from the January specials will include:
Butterfish tataki, white asparagus, yuzu dressing
Grilled corn with spicy smoked butter and shiso
Konbu smoked duck breast with ginger miso and kumquats
Rice hot pot with king crab and wasabi tobiko
Yoghurt and almond cake with mango toffee and miso caramel ice cream
The 20th anniversary dishes will sit alongside Roka classics of Yellowtail sashimi with yuzu-truffle dressing; Wagyu sushi with oscietra caviar and handmade Gyozas with crab and black cod. From the robata grill, standout seafood, meat, and vegetable dishes include Sea bream fillet, ryotei miso and red onion; Lamb cutlets with Korean spices and Asparagus with sweet soy and sesame. Desserts are constructed with the same level of precision and flair, and almost all are touched by the robata grill providing an element of smoke and fire and perfectly pairing the sweet with the often umami flavours of Japanese cuisine; think Dark chocolate and green tea pudding with crunchy jivar and pear ice cream.
Drinks include inventive cocktails that feel transportive to the restaurant's Japanese roots, with serves such as the Lychee Gimlet (Tanqueray 10 gin, lychee cordial, kasutori (sake lees) shochu, lillet rose, rose water) and the Sakura 75 (Roku gin, cherry blossom, koji, yuzu sake, champagne),alongside an extensive list of wines, beers and premium hand-picked cold and hot sakes, including the specially brewed ROKA Sake.
“As part of the anniversary it is important that we celebrate with our customers” says Becker, these celebrations will commence where it all began, London’s Charlotte Street with the launch 20 for 20, a £20 set menu with a number of signature dishes. The menu will run from 2nd February – 22nd February between 12pm – 3pm, for 20 days, as a nod to the celebration of the milestone. Diners will share entrees and select a main of their choice, served with steamed rice.
White miso soup with spring onion
Tiger prawn tempura with spicy yuzu dressing
Iceberg lettuce with caramelised onion dressing
Sake teriyaki - salmon fillet teriyaki with sansho salt
Tai no miso-yaki - sea bream fillet, ryotei miso and red onion
Hinadori no lemon miso yaki - cedar roasted baby chicken with chilli and lemon
Kobuta no ribs yawaraka nikomiyaki - baby back pork ribs with sancho and cashew nuts