Scores: 4 GFG / Z 26/ H 1 (Char. St.)
Perhaps to encourage non-residents of the area to enter Canary Wharf on a weekend- obviously a reasonably difficult task – Roka offers a weekend buffet brunch. This is prepared in a similar style as many restaurants do in Asia where drinks are included in the price and people may stay several hours.
Roka is the second branch of the restaurant that started on Charlotte Street; there is a third venue that will open soon in Mayfair as well as one in Hong Kong. This was my first time in the Canary Wharf branch but I have eaten many times in the Charlotte Street branch both in the restaurant and in Shochu, the bar below it. Roka serves Japanese food from a sushi bar, a general kitchen and from the robata, an open grill.
For the brunch three options are offered at £42, £54 and £66 a head, all include a glass of something fizzy when you arrive and re-filled wine and Bloody Marys throughout. All of the menus include access to the buffet starter bar as well as a choice of main course from a menu which changes as one pays more. The quality of wine also improves with the increased price; a bonus with the most expensive menu is that it also includes a deluxe salami patter and a choice of dessert (rather than a shared platter).
We decided to go for the most expensive option (£66). Here we started with a glass of champagne rather than a Bellini and the wine options contained a drinkable Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc. The buffet contains a wide range of options, these included a large selection of salads, some noodles, tofu, edamame and a couple of soups. To me the more interesting stuff included 3 types of nigiri, including prawn and mackerel, as well as salmon sashimi and vegetable tempura. There were also some deep fried dumplings and chicken yakitori. All the sushi I tried was good quality and the salmon sashimi, despite being cut into smaller pieces than usual, was very nice. The tempura was also well cooked, although I would add that it is worth trying to get this as soon as it comes out.
The additional deluxe sashmi platter that came with our menu contained salmon, chu toro, yellowtail and some salmon tarter. There was a bit of the sashmi each, it was all excellent quality although I am not sure about Zuma and Roka’s policy of serving it on blocks of ice (it does look cool though).
For mains, the selection on the top menu mainly contains lobster and angus/ wagyu cross beef. We had a 180 gram sirloin of 290 day grain fed black angus/ wagyu cross which was served with eryngii mushrooms and a portion of grilled lobster with shiso mayonnaise and fried shallots. The beef was excellent, it was cooked to a perfect medium rare I liked the cut very much, it had a perfect combination of taste, fat and texture. The lobster was perfectly cooked and the mayonnaise went well with it but I did not use much. My dessert was a meringue sphere that was filled with chocolate mousse and there was also caramel underneath. It was quite a nice combination but was quite sweet although it suited my palate fine.
Overall I would recommend the Roka brunch experience; I would say that in order to make it worthwhile you probably should be in the mood to eat and drink quite a lot, otherwise I think the normal menu is the best option. The food is of generally very high quality but you obviously are vastly limited to starter/ sushi choice and some things may take a while to restock. I am also not sure about whether I would order the most expensive menu again, I think there is value there but you only get 3 pieces of deluxe sashimi each and the mains, although lovely, offer limited choice.