‘Do the Hokey Poke with Me…’
4 Mill Street
London W1s 2AX
Most Photos Courtesy on the Internet. Apart from the Shake and Bake. NHYM 2016.
Design: 4.25 stars
Ambience: 4.5 stars
Food: 4.5 stars
Service: 4 stars
Overall: 4.25 stars
When I told Mr.X we were going out for Hawaiian food, he looked at me like I had told him that we were going out to Pizza Hut; clearly not impressed and hinting that it was a bad idea. To him, Hawaiian food evokes images of anything with a pineapple on top: Hawaiian pizzas, fried rice topped with pineapple or chicken kebabs – with pineapple. Little did he know that the newest trend to hit this side of the Atlantic is Poke (the U.S. has had this trend for a while already, but it has now swum to our shores). I told him to trust me, I am now a bona fide restaurant critic after all (the pressure was now on).
Poke is the Hawaiian version of ceviche: raw cubed fish marinated in garlic, sesame, soy or other spices on a bed of rice. Black Roe, the first Poke bar in London, comes from Kurt Zdesar, the man behind Chotto Matte, a popular restaurant serving Nikkei food (Peruvian-Japanese) and also the man who was responsible for bringing Nobu to London. So, we owe a lot to him.
When we got to Black Roe the other night, Mr. X was quite surprised. There were no Hula dancers or Hawaiian shirts in sight. Instead, we entered a cool, dark lit restaurant with black and white max-sized photographs on the walls, neon signs about silence and cozy leather booths. All very Soho. And not at all what he was expecting. The dance music was blaring and we wondered whether this place turned into a night club after midnight, which we would have loved.
But let’s talk about the food. It was excellent and was the main attraction of the night. The yellowtail Poke dressed with spicy garlic salsa was just delicious, with perfectly balanced flavours and was as fresh as you can get in London. The asparagus tempura, which Mr.X wasn’t originally quite keen on getting, had the right crunch and flavours, satisfying the entire table. Each of the mains we ordered was very good and tasty; the grilled spatchcock chicken with corn salsa, cajun style seabass with pineapple salsa (yes, there had to be some pineapple hidden somewhere) and the Bison rib eye steak with yuzu soy hollandaise.
My photo of the Shake and Bake. NHYM 2016.
For dessert, we almost went for the ‘shake and bake’ which deserves its own menu and website given its enormity, but we opted for the conservative tarte tatin, which was good, but not quite as thrilling as the shake and bake. The other dish we didn’t try but deserves its own menu and website was the Lobster Mac ‘n’ Cheese served in a huge lobster shell. Looked delish.
When we left the restaurant, Mr. X couldn’t stop raving about it and showering it with praise. ‘…one the best restaurants I have been to in ages…’ ‘…great restaurant, the food is outstanding…’ I couldn’t help but feel quite smug about it, given how unenthusiastic he was at the prospect of going. He is now a full-on Poke-convert, preaching about it to anyone who will listen. For once, I can be the one who can say, ‘see, you should always trust me, I’m always right.’ Which doesn’t happen very often.