The best part of my interview with Chef Patrick was, of course, the eating! Here’s what we had:
To start, we had the sashimi served on ice.
I’m pretty sure I’ve been eating sashimi and sushi incorrectly…. I just dump all my wasabi into the soya-sauce and dunk the sashimi in!
“You should put the amount of wasabi you want, on top of the sashimi or sushi and then put it in the soya-sauce. You mix the flavours in your mouth rather than in the soya-sauce”.
Hmmmm…whoops. What’s this?
“This is the butterfish. It is very difficult for us to attain, but it’s beautiful. Here, the butterfish has a citrus dressing- yuzu (Japanese lemon) with ginger and garlic, served with white asparagus on top of a pesto type dressing (shiso leaf paste mixed with rapeseed oil). The acidic taste brings out the delicate texture of the fish.”
Do you have a favourite fish?
“ I don’t have a favourite fish. And even if I do, I will convince mnyself that I don’t have one. I like to be fair and open-minded and to keep things neutral. If you believe one fish is better than the other, then you will never want to try the other fish, even if it is prepared in a different way!”
After that divine first ‘course’, next up were the Foie gras in plum wine and King Crab Tempura. Both were exquisite!
“The foie gras is marinated in plum wine and poached in its own liquor. Then it is served with seaweed and a squid ink bread. The Red king crab is harder to find than normal crab but has a sweeter texture. Here we serve the tempura with tensu sauce and green tea salt which is the traditional way of serving tempura.”At this point, Chef Patrick orders the house sake and explained how they are working on developing the Shoju they make in-house and how they want to create a bigger and more fun variety of shoju for the customers. At the moment, he says, shoju is not as popular as sake, but he is working on that!
Third course; and he’s ordered the Roka signature Black cod and prawn dumplings and the grilled Hokkaido scallops. There are 3 types of dumplings on the menu, pork and scallop, beef and kimchi and black cod and prawn. The black cod and prawn is more popular in Hong Kong and is therefore not available at their London branches.Last up, before dessert, we had the spicy lamb chops marinated in coriander pepper and served with a cucumber and red onion cleanser. The lamb is from Australia and therefore “milder” to cater for those who aren’t big fans of lamb. Amazingly tender meat, and just the right amount of ‘zing’ for the palate.The classic miso eggplant was delicious but what was utterly incredible was the Black cod in sweet miso sauce. Chef Patrick told me it takes 3 days to prepare this dish, which involves soaking the cod in salt water for 12 hours, drying it out then marinating it for 24 hours. All that work clearly pays off!To end, a sumptuous dessert platter on shaved ice was produced in which was nestled sesame and green tea sorbets and two desserts- the valrhona chocolate cake and the jasmine sundae with yuzu-granite. The jasmine sundae was my favourite, gorgeously refreshing. The whipped jelly cream with layers of orange jelly, strawberry and orange coulis topped with yuzu shaved ice and jasmine icecream (made from jasmine flowers) was a perfect balance of fruitiness, acidic bite and crunchiness.
As you can imagine, I was completely and utterly stuffed after that sumptuous feast, and so very grateful for the opportunity to dine and learn, not just about Roka itself but also about Japanese cuisine, from such a passionate and innovative chef.
Chopstixfix rating: 4/5