Tucked down a small lane behind Regent Street is Black Roe Poke Bar and Grill. Their speciality is Pacific Rim seafood. The pictures on the website scream food porn, the Lobster with Mac and Cheese looks heavenly and the Grilled Scallops in their shell, divine. There are many stars on the menu but we are here for the Hawaiian Poke, which is marinated, cubed raw fish served neat, over a bowl of rice or on salad.
Signature Dish, Black Roe Ahi and Yellowtail Poke. Image: Black Roe Restaurant website
There is an ice counter with various seafood displayed in the shopfront. From the outside, I can see through into the restaurant. Six huge black and white portraits overlook the main dining area which is furnished with wooden tables and leather chairs.
Black Roe can seat up to 60 people. There is also a separate area downstairs for private functions. The restaurant is dark and the music is loud, but it has a hip feel. Image: Nicole James
My senses are assaulted the minute I walk through the door. The music is a tad loud, which is ironic given the neon, 'enjoy the silence' sign on the wall. There is a distinctly fishy smell in the air.
I have recently returned to London after six years in Asia. During my time abroad I learnt and that fresh fish should not have any odour. I'm a little worried, because I seem to recall a friend telling me never to eat seafood on a Monday, due to fishermen not taking their boats out on Sundays.
I hesitantly plough on towards my table and settle in with one of their cocktails of the day. It's served in a funky monkey jar and its cool lemony flavour puts me at ease.
The Cocktails and Mocktails at Black Roe are well-balanced and scream, 'drink me!' The Red Berry Cooler mocktail was refreshing and slightly fizzy from the ginger ale. Two thumbs up. Image: Nicole James
Looking at the menu, we want to order one of everything - twice. We focus on what we are really here for, which is Hawaiian poke. The fish cubes are citrusy and zesty and served over a bowl of crunchy salad. They are elegantly presented in a myriad of colours and peppered with roe. The portions are generous.
Hawaiian poke, refreshing marinated raw street food. Clockwise from top left: The "Black Roe' Ahi and Yellowtail Poke, Salmon Poke and Classic Ahi Poke. Image: Nicole James
We are very excited about the Lobster Mac and Cheese as the name holds so much promise. It is enjoyable and decadently rich.
Lobster Mac and Cheese at Black Roe restaurant. It is unctuous, hearty and rich. It is not for the faint-hearted and definitely not for those on diets. Eating out is about enjoying yourself though so go for it we did. Image: Nicole James
Prawn and Pork Pot Stickers, asparagus and fries appear. The gyoza dumplings are nicely fried, not too salty and have a deep umami flavour. This is the dish of the evening. Also worthy of a mention is the fries that were crispy on the outside and soft on the inside.
Prawn and Pork Pot Stickers, Grilled Asparagus and Beef Salt Fries. Image: Nicole James
Our eyes were clearly bigger than our stomachs and we are fit to bursting by now, but we still have two dishes yet. The octopus is nicely spiced but slightly over-charred and has a monotonous texture. The chicken is warm rather than hot and is sweet and tangy. I am not a big fan.
From left: Chargrilled Octopus Aioli served on a bed of coriander and chilli on the left-hand side and BBQ Pepper Chicken. Image: Nicole James
The restaurant is only just over half full. It is a Monday night and the service is achingly slow. This contrasts with previous weekend visits where they couldn't wait to get rid of me to the point of informing me I'd have to come back for dessert next time.