London,  The Food Diaries

The Food Diaries // 015

The problem with most places that I go to eat out at is that I have to be super careful with my allergies. It’s one of the reasons why I rarely visit Thai restaurants because of their use of peanuts. Nevertheless, I try not to let that stop me because then I wouldn’t go anywhere, would I?

Mutay and I always have monthly dinner dates (something I’ve mentioned before and is good for my sanity). Last month’s date took as to ROKA on Charlotte Street!

ROKA is a Japanese restaurant with spacious surroundings and a central, open top grill kitchen in the middle. You can see the chefs bustling around preparing everyone’s food, which is something I love watching. We had a table situated on the side, so we didn’t get to see much but it was still pretty cool.

ROKA specialises in robatayaki cuisine. 

In Japanese cuisine, robatayaki (炉端焼き, literally “fireside-cooking”), often shortened to just robata (ろばた in hiragana), refers to a method of cooking, similar to barbecue, in which items of food on skewers are slow-grilled over hot charcoal. – Wikipedia

We got a table through Bookatable, so ours was a special deal which meant we got 3 courses and a glass of bubbles for only £33 per person. 

The waitress explained that the majority of their starters used a fish based sauce, which was very unfortunate for me because I’m allergic to fish (honestly, I’ve no idea how I’ve survived on this earth for so long either, guys). Thankfully, she said that she would speak to the chef and they’d come up with a specialised menu. 

I particularly love that there wasn’t that much of a fuss made and I commend her for handling it so well – it happened again later with the dessert too because they used nuts in the dessert I wanted originally, but they made a special version of it for me, instead. 

My only annoyance was that I didn’t get to have the kimchi that I was so looking forward to because they used fish stock, but it was only a minor issue.

For the starters, our confusion was that we had to pick one, but the lady explained that everything on the list was a starter. Imagine our excitement! The original menu included kimchi, sashimi, beef dumplings, and sashimi tempura but with the alterations, it was slightly different.

We started off with these edible leaves with a really nice dressing. I’m sorry to say I don’t know the name of the dish, but it was very yummy! We also had gyuniku to goma no gyoza (beef, ginger & sesame dumplings), which is definitely something I recommend you try. Paired with the sauce, it was delicious. Next was the vegetable tempura, which was great! Tempura is just a dish of either seafood or vegetables battered and deep fried. It makes for a great snack, actually. Also, because I couldn’t have the sashimi, they made cucumber maki for me instead which was still yummy.

Starters! Not pictured is the cucumber maki.

There were no problems with the mains, so nothing was altered. I opted for gyuhireniku no pirikara yakiniku (beef sirloin, chilli, spring onion), which also came along with steamed rice. The beef was so tender, it practically fell off my fork. I’m not exactly sure of the sauce it came with, but it was extremely tasty and I’m guessing it was soy sauce based. You can’t really go wrong with rice, either. I wish the main course didn’t end so quickly, but I guess that’s because I wolfed it down like I hadn’t been fed in a hundred years. 

Look at the presentation! Amazing ?

The last course was dessert, for which had to be altered, but I’m extremely grateful they went out of their way to do so. I went for hokkaido no yawaraka cheesecake (cotton soft cheesecake, robata grilled pear, cream cheese ice cream). It was a great way to end what was already a fantastic meal!

This was amazing cheesecake and paired with the crunchiness of the pears and softness of the ice cream, it was delightful!

We had a really enjoyable dinner, and I’d just like to bring up again how lovely the servers were and how accommodating they were. I absolutely wish more restaurants were like this – it definitely makes it a lot easier for people who enjoy eating out but are restricted by allergies. 

37 Charlotte Street
United Kingdom

T +44 (0) 20 7580 6464


  • Maroon Caludin

    That’s amazing that they went out of their way like that! I wish more restaurants did that as well! I don’t have allergies but my mom has a lot so I know how hard it can be to eat stuff!

    And that food looks so yummy!

  • Pauline

    I love how you and Mutay have monthly dinners, I suggested this to Hamdah actually and it shall be a thing now! 😉 £33 for 3 meals isn’t bad actually! I usually only get the main meal when I go out and nothing else because I end up spending way too much money.

    You’re allergic to fish? That’s so interesting! My first thought was actually, “HOW HAVE YOU SURVIVED IN THIS WORLD?!!!!” GAHHH. It was so awesome for them to make you an altered menu. I’m not too sure if other restaurants would do that actually so that’s really awesome of them and tbh I’m too socially awkward to ask and would’ve probably just left haha! xD

    Everything looks so yummy! 😀 I’m glad you had a blast!

  • Amy

    Oh wow, that food looks fantastic. You always eat at such lovely places. Your blog always makes me so hungry! I’d definitely want to try some of that beef, and the dessert. It all looks amazing!

    It must be so difficult having food allergies. I can’t imagine having to check so many things when ordering in a restaurant. The only allergies I have are to non-edible things like cats or dust (lol, this gets me out of so much cleaning) so mine are pretty easy to deal with. It’s great that the restaurant were so accommodating though – more places should definitely be like that!

    Glad you had a good time!

  • Tara

    It has to be frustrating to be careful at restaurants. I do have minor oral-allergy to raw tree-based fruits and nuts (with the exception of bananas and citrus fruits), but nothing to your level. It’s good you don’t let your allergies stop you and that you take proper precautions 🙂

    I love that you guys do monthly dinner dates! That’s a good way to keep up with each other and to enjoy some delicious eats!

    I had no idea what robatayaki was, so thanks for teaching me that. At first, though, I read it as “robot-teriyaki” HAHA! Three courses and bubbly thing for that price is a fantastic deal!

    I love how the restaurant was so accommodating! As a matter of fact, I love it when any restaurants are accommodating 🙂 So kudos to them for that! Poo about the kimchi, though. 🙁

    All the food looks so good! The dessert, especially, made me smile. They must have made a Hokkaido-based cheesecake! Since I just left there, that caught my eye ^^

  • Gillan

    Aww, it’s so cute that you and your best friend have monthly dinners! It’s so cool to hear best friends having a tradition like this ?
    I LOVE JAPANESE RESTOS!! My brother always spends his birthday at a Japanese buffet where you cook your own meats. I feel like a chef even though it’s technically just grilling lmao
    Ahhh! I’m so sad you’re allergic to fish 🙁 I’d be a pescetarian if I never ate fast food because I would always pick fish over meat. It’s awesome that Roka’s chef made a special menu, it says a lot about their customer service.
    Their plating is fantastic! And that cheesecake and cream cheese ice cream combo is mouth-watering ? I could never gauge how much is considered “pricey” in pounds because you guys have one of the highest-valued currencies in the world so it’s all pricey to me ???

  • Nancy

    Even though you have some food allergies, it’s good that you’re still going out to try new things! You’re trying to be careful so it’s all good ;). It’s so cute that you and Mutay are always having BFF dates!!! Some day, I will grow up and be as cool as you.

    Japanese restaurants are so cool. I love the type of food surrounding their culture. It’s awesome that the restaurant was so accommodating your allergies. Much kudos to them! I love it when the waiter/ess explains the menu to you. It doesn’t feel like a puzzle after all. (+ points if they give recommendations).

    The food looks delicious. I love the way Japanese rice is made. It tastes better than jasmine rice XD. Glad you enjoyed the meal! Thanks for sharing~~~~~

  • Lesley Pittaway

    You are a fantastic writer – thank you for your incredibly kind words! We are so pleased all of your dietary requirements could be accommodated and you left both happy and full. Lovely having you in and hope to have you back with us soon. Big love xx

  • Georgie

    My heart is so warm that they were able to modify the dishes for you ☺️ I think these days, restaurants around the world are doing far better at catering for people with allergies or intolerances.

    I have had that surprise with entrees/starters before. When you get a set menu you often get ALL the starters but I forget this and assume you have to pick just one. Just last night I went to dinner at an Italian restaurant with some coworkers and we got all the starters from a set menu!

    You definitely can’t go wrong with rice ? I love how a lot of Japanese restaurants sprinkle the seasoning on it too. My friend gifted me a packet of that seasoning once and it changed my life. I put it on all the rice I ate at home LOL.

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