Since Zuma opened in Hong Kong a few years ago, everyone has been waxing lyrical about its weekend brunch. I wholeheartedly concur that it is one of the better brunches in the city, yet every time the bill comes, it leaves a giant hole in my wallet, meaning I will only ever go there for a special occasion, having left a large gap since my last visit.
What about those occasions that aren’t so special? Those times you’re just really craving a feast full of sushi and sashimi and everything else a Japanese-style brunch can bring? For those times, there is ROKA in Pacific Place, which starts at only $298 – a fraction of the price you’d pay at Zuma.
Admittedly ROKA isn’t nearly as fancy as Zuma, yet it doesn’t try to be. It’s inside a shopping mall, but unlike so many restaurants in Hong Kong that ignore this and try to be something they’re not, ROKA offers a casual, informal vibe perfect for a laid-back feast mid-shop. The décor is minimalistic, using a lot of wood, balanced with soft light panels to give it a calming, natural feel.
$298 will get you only food (but a lot of food), $388 also includes unlimited wine, sake, beer and fresh juices, but $598 for the Premium Brunch includes all of the above, plus more food and free-flow Mumm Champagne. Yes, ok, there isn’t much difference between the price of this and Zuma’s brunch, but the fact is that there are options; if you don’t want the free-flow, you aren’t obliged to pay the earth for your sushi.
The brunch starts with a sprawling buffet, ranging from soup, to soba noodles, to robatayaki, to sushi, to sashimi and back again, as many times as you like.
Although it may look dodgy, the strange egg, beef and tofu soup was divine and wonderfully hearty, and I adored the miso-glazed grilled fish, which simply melted like butter in the mouth.
It seems that a huge focal point of the brunch is on the selection of cold soba noodles, with their array of accompaniments. I added a generous dollop of minced ginger and some spring onions to mine to really shake away the cobwebs from the weekend.
The main attraction however is certainly the sushi and sashimi; the fish was incredibly fresh and choices were more creative than the average sushi bar, although my favourite was a rather traditional tempura prawn roll. What’s dangerous about these kinds of brunches is that I insist on trying at least one of everything that I see in front of me; this is exactly what I did with the sushi, meaning that by the time the main courses were served, I already verging on full.
This was only a minor setback, however, as the second I saw the main courses, which we had previously ordered from the robata menu, any hint of fullness evaporated. I’d recommend ordering a different dish each and sharing them between you: a foolproof way of avoiding food envy. We first shared some Hokkaido scallop skewers. These are possibly some of the sexiest scallops I have ever seen, served like lollipops (which is of course how we ate them), sprinkled with shiso and finished with a dollop of wasabi mayonnaise. The texture and taste is utter perfection too.
We also shared the 300-day grain fed Australian Black Angus tenderloin, a beautifully tender piece of meat served with pickled vegetables and a rich soy sauce that perfectly enhanced the flavour of the beef.
Moving on to desserts, a selection of daily desserts is presented before you on an ice-laden platter. Everything was lovely and fresh, with strong hints of summer. The fresh fruit (even the normally-boring dragon fruit) was gladly welcomed after such a vast amount of food, but it was the oreo trifle (or something along those lines) that really wowed us: layers of crumbly chocolate biscuit interspersed with layers of cream and a sort of panna cotta, topped with caramel pop corn.
Brunch at ROKA is presented with a smile every Sunday from 11.30am to 3pm, providing the ideal respite from a day of hardcore shopping. And if you feel like you’ve gained a few pounds by eating your bodyweight in sushi, then worry not, for shopping is the perfect way to burn them straight off again!
Shop 002, LG1
Tel: +852 3960 5988