Dishes from the robata grill, friendly service and delightful decor coverage for one remarkable dining experience.
ROKA Riyadh is a new iteration of the popular Japanese robatayaki restaurant, which opened in the heart of London more than a decade and a half ago. In that time, the sister restaurant of Rainer Becker’s Zuma has seen global expansion to the likes of Dubai, Istanbul, Kuwait, and Mallorca, before arriving in the Saudi capital.
Tucked away on the corner of Prince Muhammad Ibn Abd Al Aziz, ROKA Riyadh is the perfect fit for the vibrant As Sulimaniyah neighbourhood. Standing out from the crowd with its modern entranceway, it’s difficult not to succumb to the charms of this contemporary Japanese eatery with its pink cherry blossom flanked bar and rice paper walls. ROKA is a restaurant that has been impeccably designed inside and out, from the antique wood ceilings to the timber floors, offering a contemporary Japanese feel across the sleek and inviting restaurant space. For those looking to dine in the heart of the action, there are several seats overlooking the flame-licked robata grill.
Under the guidance of ROKA’s Head Chef, Libor Dobis, the menu in Riyadh is very similar to London and Dubai, offering all of the signatures alongside a handful of additions and regional adjustments crafted with the Saudi market in mind.
We begin with the yellowtail sashimi with yuzu-truffle dressing (SAR 115), a ROKA signature that has been enamouring diners in London and Dubai whilst becoming a firm FACT favourite. The thin slices of yellowtail doused in an addictive yuzu-truffle dressing manage to harmonise the delicate flavours of the fish rather than overpowering them.
Never before has a piece of iceberg lettuce tasted so good! The iceberg lettuce with caramelised onion dressing (SAR 65) features roughly chopped leaves slathered with a sweet caramelised onion dressing that manages to diffuse the bitterness for which iceberg is renowned. We savour every last mouthful before moving on to the crab, black cod and prawn dumplings (SAR 100). A dish that has been purposefully developed for diners in Riyadh, parcelling an alluring seafood mixture into a crisp shell with roasted chilli.
Our main course comes from the heart of the robata grill, which remains a hub of activity throughout ROKA’s busy lunchtime service. The lamb cutlets with Korean spices and sesame cucumber (SAR 180) are beautifully charred and undeniably tender, resulting in a dish that lovers of heat (like us) will fully appreciate. We’re too full to indulge in ROKA’s infamous “baked” potato with yuzu cream and chives on this occasion, but we would thoroughly encourage you to order it (you can thank us later).
With nine dishes on the concise dessert menu, diners can happily opt for a dessert platter containing all the highlights. However, we opted for the sticky date pudding with puffed rice (AED 75). A sweet choice accompanied by a delicious sweet potato ice cream for which we’d love to get the recipe. It’s an impressive finale to an indulgent meal.
Combined with casual and friendly service, ROKA Riyadh makes an exciting culinary offering. The memorable dining experience exudes personality, energy, and uncompromising flavours and paves the way for the soon-to-open Zuma in KAFD in early 2023.
Consider us excited.
GO: Visit www.rokarestaurant.com for reservations and more information.