Roka – Charlotte Street

Japanese Restaurant Roka on Charlotte Street (there is a new branch in Canary Wharf) is one of those places where it can be really difficult to get a reservation, especially on those ‘going out’ nights like Friday. I’ve tried booking on a number of times, and on each occasion I was told it was full. But I managed to achieve the seemingly impossible task of getting a table when I discovered that there is a bar seating area called the sushi and robatayaki counter which is open to customers on a first-come-first-served-no-booking basis. It’s located right in front of the chefs who cook on the open grill, and the best time to go to ensure a counter seat seems to be before 7.30pm. So for those who want to eat at Roka and can’t get a reservation, this is the route to try.

In fact, when I turned up just after 7pm looking for a counter table, I managed to secure a table for 8pm.. This allowed time for a detour to the affiliated Shochu Lounge Bar in the basement area downstairs (shochu is a type of Japanese spirit, typically containing about 25% alcohol). They have an abundance of fabulous cocktails, a number of which contain shochu.

Black cod marinated in yuzu miso & hajikami

Black cod marinated in yuzu miso & hajikami

The food menu is full of choices, but it’s always hard to pass up on a black cod marinated in yuzu (a citrus fruit) miso and homemade hajikami (ginger pickled in vinegar) (£22.60). This was a lovely rendition of the classic ‘Nobu’ dish, with the cod being succulent and flaky. It oozed with lots of sweet, slightly sticky yuzu miso sauce.

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Atari-ya Sushi Bar

Mixed selection of sushi and sashimi at Atariya

Mixed selection of sushi and sashimi at Atariya

Atariya is a little hole-in-the-way Japanese sushi place nestled amongst a string of restaurants along James Street, just north of the shopping pulse of Oxford Street. Actually, it’s part of a chain, although I’ve only been to the one on James Street. The great draw card of Atariya is that the sushi is resoundingly fresh. Just ask Jason Atherton, chef of one star Michelin restaurant Maze and his adjoining Maze Grill. I did, when I bumped into him at Atariya last year and got chatting to him. Apparently he’s a bit of a regular for the simple reason that the sushi is so fresh. And Atariya, being a stone’s throw away from his restaurants on Grosvenor Square, means it is all quite accessible when he’s taking a break.

I too have visited Atariya many times. It’s where I go when I’m in need of a sushi fix, and I’ve never been disappointed with its freshness, although the most stringent and rigorous of sushi connoisseurs might challenge the slight inconsistencies in the sizing of the sashimi pieces which occasionally seem to change from time to time. But this is a minor detail. It’s the freshness of the seafood that counts the most, and this is pretty assured. Furthermore, the vinegary sushi rice is authentic, with that required level of stickiness and sweetness.

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Storming into Tsunami

A girl has to eat, and this time it’s Japanese food! So check out my latest review on Tsunami Japanese Restaurant as I storm my way through a multitude of dishes. I’ve posted it as part of a blog exchange with fellow food blogger, Londoneater.

So to read all, and savour the yummy dishes, click here ‘Tsunami Restaurant Review’.

And be sure to come back here on Wednesday to check out Londoneater’s post.

Happy eating!


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