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Its location on the ground floor of Pacific Place mall drains Roka of some of the energy its London sister restaurant is famed for. Designers made the most of its fairly uninspired home by creating a warm atmosphere allowing the diner to almost forget where they are. Soft lighting and modern wood furnishings add to the intimacy. Food lovers can choose to sit close to the action of the open grill, actual lovers can choose a quiet corner.
An extensive range of dishes based around a traditional Japaneserobatayaki (open charcoal grill) means there is something for everyone.Meaty and richly flavoured, thejumbo tiger prawn with arima sansho chilli paste is un-missable, while the succulent scallop skewers are sublime. The beef dumplingsare unexpectedly vivid – full of colour and bursting with meat – and highly recommended. The three-piece sashimi selection is a good place to start. The dish is designed like a sculpture with the fish beautifully arranged across a large block of ice. The servings are sizeable and the cuts high quality, but ensure you ask what you are getting as chefs sometimes serve farmed bluefin tuna, which while still not ideal, is environmentally preferable to the endangered wild version. For dessert, every mouthful of the jasmine sundae with yuzu granita is a kaleidoscope of flavours and textures including, cream, trifle, sponge, and ice. Refreshing and unusual it’s the perfect palate cleanser. So popular it had run out by the time we ordered – luckily the pastry chef is well-aware of its popularity – acquiesced and created one more for us.
Roka has a range of wines, sake, spirits and cocktails to rival many bars. The wine list is extensive across a range of prices. Both the malbec and the Chianti were exceptionally good by the glass, while prices for the bottle range from HK$315 for a standard dry white riesling to HK$6090 for a Chateau Angelus. The cocktails are a traditional fusion using Japanese staples of sake and yuzu – try the “Yuzu Sour” as an aperitif. The sake list features more choices than usual and both the sparkling and peach incarnations of the liquor were an unexpected treat.
Staff are attentive but in some cases this borders on pushy. Our waitress initially failed to allow us adequate time to study the menu before interrupting with suggestions. Overall the team operates at the top level of restaurant service and are willing to go that bit further to ensure you have a good time.
The final bill was close to HK $2,000 which is a sizeable amount for an ordinary dinner for two, but with a range of dishes ideal for sharing, high quality produce and good-sized portions, Roka is a reasonable choice for a night out with friends.