The Japanese robatayaki grill usually forms the centrepiece at Roka restaurants, but rare and premium sakes, whiskies and wines will be in the spotlight for a new series of special pairing dinners (£90) from July to October.
Of particular note, Roka Canary Wharf will focus on Japan’s burgeoning wine scene (September 13) with a dinner on its garden terrace overlooking Canada Square. “Very few people have had the pleasure of discovering these beautiful, interesting wines because they are produced in very small quantities in the few suitable climates of Japan,” says Laura Blanchett, Roka’s head sommelier and wine buyer, who, as well as leading diners region by region through the country’s vineyards, will explore which European wines work best with Japanese cuisine.
At its Aldwych chapter (July 26, September 20, October 11) Roka will team up with notable Japanese whisky distiller Nikka, which was established in 1934 by Masataka Taketsuru, who spent some years in Scotland learning his craft. Dishes such as beef fillet with chilli and spring onion will be matched with Yoichi No Age Statement single malt, and a Nikka expert will be on hand to guide guests through the pairings.
Sake will be the featured drink in Mayfair, with the first event (July 31) featuring summer flavours of the rice wine. The following dinner (September 4) will be inspired by the Japanese tradition of momijigari, when people put aside time to hunt out the most beautiful autumn leaves, and will bring together a selection of autumnal sakes with dishes such as yellowtail sashimi with yuzu truffle dressing, black cod, crab and crayfish dumplings, and smoked duck breast with barley miso and kumquats. The final dinner (October 16) will feature bottlings from the Dassai Brewery, which produces some of the most sought-after sakes in the world.