When it was announced that the London famed Roka was creating its largest outpost in Riyadh, people were abuzz.
The restaurant easily became one of the most popular restaurants in Dubai a year ago, and the anticipation of its arrival in Saudi Arabia was palpable. So the moment we set foot on its industrial-chic address and took our first bite of their culinary oeuvre, we knew that we were in for a dining experience that would hit all the right notes. And it did.
Focusing on the harmony of flavors and elements was a consistent feature we saw at play in Roka Riyadh. We recommend starting your gastronomic adventure with the crowd-favorite Kampachi salad – yellowtail sashimi with yuzu truffle dressing. The tartar collection is not to be missed with its rice cracker pairing, our editor favoring the yellowtail, and salmon varieties, especially when made part of their fresh sashimi platter (their fatty tuna is divine).
For those craving a good crunch on the side, the in-house creation, iceberg salad with pickled onions is excellent to have on the table (throughout the meal, we’d say).
Anything from their Robata grill is bound to titillate your tastebuds, to be honest, but what truly had us craving (to the point of scheduling a return soon after) is the grilled Octopus bathe in wagyu drippings. The succulence of their meats is not to be missed, whether you’re opting for a seafood treat (the cod and sea bream here are the freshest, tastiest mouthful we’ve had in a while) or indulging your inner carnivore with their Korean lamb chops or chicken wings. And before we forget… you can’t go wrong with the Roka baked potato as a trusted main companion.
The plates that will hit your table show grace and confidence, well balanced and prepared with meticulous attention to detail. At the helm of this culinary brigade is Chef Libor, whose passion runs through the veins of the kitchen alongside his commitment to quality ingredients, and clever use of them is translated on the menu.
What completes the Roka experience and sets it apart is its wonderful energy and ambiance. The recommendations of their gents and ladies are always spot on, their service consistently enthusiastic yet warm and simply impeccable.
As a fan of daytime dining, lunch at Roka has become a mainstay on my calendar, and when reservations at times become elusive, I welcome opting to walk in and take my place at the counter. It honestly is one of the best spots to watch the kitchen in action while you sip one of their signature mocktails (yes to the green Yoda and yes to that spiced citrusy concoction you’d have to ask about).
Overall, Roka is a formidable addition to Riyadh’s ever-growing contemporary dining scene and one which we see will be turning strangers to patrons one well-balanced plate at a time.