A Luxurious (Liquid) Lunch at ROKA Aldwych

After hearing so much about ROKA restaurants and their fantastic food from both Angie and Andrea, it’s been top of my “must visit” London restaurant list for quite a while, and so when Time Out popped up with their incredible value £30 voucher for unlimited food and wine at ROKA Aldwych, the newest ROKA restaurant, a hashtag of merry bloggers couldn’t resist, could we?!
Roka Aldwych

Although we were initially rather worried about being seated in the bar and not the restaurant itself, I have to admit I actually preferred our seats (mainly for the lighting – what can I say it’s a blogger thing!) as the room was bright, the table a little secluded and I have to say I didn’t think it felt like a bar at all. 
As we arrived, we were all given the complimentary bellini as part of the han setto brunch we were about to have, which is always a great start to a meal if you ask me!
Roka Aldwych
I hadn’t seen Emma in so long, so I was really looking forward to catching up with her and picking her brain about all things kiwi before I jet off at the end of the month (we’re hoping to get some bubbles in NZ too which I’m really excited about!). Angie and I have seen quite a lot of each other recently, and had altogether too much wine, but it’s always a delight to see Mrs SilverSpoon!
The only lady at our table that I hadn’t met was Ellie, from The Young Domestic Goddess, but I have to say I’m so glad we did meet – it’s lovely to meet someone that I have so much in common with and get on so well with (she’s definitely going to be my new spin class buddy)! I’d seen Aftab and May fairly recently at Roux at the Landau, but it was great to catch up with them and hear all about their recent foodie adventures and plans for Christmas. 
As we caught up, we nibbled on the edamame, served with a ginger and soy dressing and perused the main courses.
Roka Aldwych

The han setto brunch is based upon a delicious selection of (unlimited) starters that are designed for sharing, as well as a main course each (or if your bloggers, also designed for sharing) before finally being presented with the famous ROKA dessert platter. Trust me, you’re not going to leave this brunch hungry!

When it comes to wine you have a choice of red, white or prosecco – and at our table that was a resounding “Prosecco please!”

Roka Aldwych
The next dish to arrive was the spinach salad with sesame dressing, which I quite liked but wasn’t blown away by.
Roka Aldwych

However, when the sashimi selection arrived, I started to realise what Angie and Andrea meant! Not only was the fish delicious and of a very high quality (I adored the salmon and tuna in particular) but it was so beautifully presented. In fact, it was so good that we had to order a second portion..!

Roka Aldwych

To try and keep us healthy, a tomato salad also appeared on the table, and added a glorious colour to complement the sashimi already on the table. A simple dish, but one that I really appreciated, especially with the delicious dressing that accompanied it.

Roka Aldwych

It was the two maki rolls that I really adored: sake to avocado maki, raw salmon, avocado and wasabi, and ebi furai to avocado maki, crispy prawn and avocado maki. Maki rolls are one of my favourite parts of sushi menus, but these I really thought were wonderful. I couldn’t get enough of the crispy prawn: the textures, the slightly warm prawns and the incredible flavours really were something else.  Again, so good that we just had to order another round!

Roka Aldwych

Next up were the beef, ginger and sesame dumplings, which I also loved. Again, the flavours, the textures and the overall lightness of the dumplings made them absolutely moreish – so May and I happily dug in at our end of the table!

Roka Aldwych

One aspect of our experience that I really would compliment was ROKA’s attention to allergies: Aftab doesn’t eat pork and Ellie is vegetarian and allergic to nuts, and nothing seemed to be a problem. The waitress, very kindly, removed the bacon from one of the starters meaning that Aftab could eat all of the starters, and helpfully went through all the options on the menu with Ellie suggesting what she could and couldn’t eat.

They even brought her her own maki rolls to make sure she wasn’t missing out on anything!

Roka Aldwych

Believe it or not, we are still on the starters! Even at the full £55 for the food and unlimited wine, or £39 for food and a bellini, I think this brunch really is excellent value.

I love prawn tempura and so when the assorted vegetable and prawn tempura plate arrived I was more than a little excited! Crisp, light batter without a hint of grease covering delicious prawns, asparagus and sweet potato couldn’t have made me happier. Definitely some of the best tempura I’ve had in London.

Roka Aldwych

The one dish that I have to admit I was quite thrown by was the potato salad with bacon and egg (served without bacon in our  case). I have to say I didn’t like the look of it and was quite perplexed by a very British addition to an otherwise very traditional Japanese restaurant.

Roka Aldwych

We gratefully received our extra portions of maki rolls and sashimi, though the portions were definitely a lot smaller this time. Probably for the best since we still had mains and dessert to go…

Roka Aldwych
We asked our waitress if we could have a little break to let our starters settle and enjoy some more prosecco before our mains arrived, and she was more than happy for us to sit back and relax for a while before the next course, giving us a lovely relaxed feel as against feeling rushed as can sometimes happen on set menu brunches. 

Roka Aldwych

Fortunately we managed to avoid the awkward blogger dilemma that is two people wanting to order the same dish (that just can’t happen – think of the photos!)

Emma ordered the beef sirloin with spring onion and chilli, which was deliciously tender and perfectly cooked. A real winner of a dish and a must for any beef lover.

Roka Aldwych

Aftab ordered the very Instagram worthy grilled skewer selection which was also fabulous; I tried the chicken and was very impressed with the sweet and sticky glaze over very tender meat.

Roka Aldwych

I usually experience quite a large amount of food envy when I’m out to eat, but this time I feel like I made the best choice in ordering the salmon fillet teriyaki with sansho salt. The fish itself fell apart when you tried to pick it up and the glaze on the top was incredible. Sweet, salty and all around moreish it was an incredible dish that my friends were only too happy to help me eat!

Roka Aldwych

True to form, Angie opted for the sea bream fillet which she enjoyed, but thought might have been ever so slightly overcooked.

Roka Aldwych

Ellie opted for the vegetarian dish, the selection of vegetables from the robata, which she certainly seemed to enjoy as she polished off her dish quite merrily!

Roka Aldwych
Finally, May ordered the glazed baby back ribs with cashew nuts, which were, frankly, outstanding! I had a taste of one of the ribs and adored the sticky glaze, soft meat and contrasting salty taste from the cashew nuts. 
Roka Aldwych

Again another small break was required before we could attempt the dessert platter (we wanted to give it our full attention), and we were all a little amazed as this beauty was brought in!

Fruits, a chocolate Buddha with a mango centre, ice cream and sorbets… It really was a feast for the eyes, the cameras and the stomach!

Roka Aldwych

It’s a brunch I wouldn’t hesitate to go back to again and again, and it really was a wonderful first taste of ROKA!

I don’t think I’ve laughed so much (or had so much Prosecco) in a very long time; I had one of the most fun afternoons I’ve had in such a long time and it’s one that I’ll remember for a long time to come!

Something tells me this is the first of many more brunch dates with this hashtag of bloggers…

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