A couple of weeks back, a group of Birmingham Bloggers were invited along to test out the new menu at Rofuto, a modern japanese and pan-asian restaurant and cocktail bar. Located on the 16th floor, high above the Park Regis hotel, Rofuto certainly boasts some of the best views around, but would the food experience match up?
I went to Rofuto in it’s opening week last year, and I was impressed by the incredible views, and chic, stylish interior. The service was good and the sushi was excellent, although I wasn’t as convinced by the rest of the menu. With a new team in place, I was interested to see what the new menu had in store.
We started with a Tom Yum Soup, which contained shiitake mushrooms, galangal, chilli, tofu and thai basil. I’m a fan of Tom Yum, so was bound to enjoy this, and it was very good. The tofu was silky, and the veg still had plenty of bite. The spice level was about right too; warming without melting your sinuses.
Next was Sea Bass Tiradito, which is slices of raw sea bass with passion fruit and tiger’s milk. I’ve never tried sea bass raw, so I was very curious about this dish. Sea bass is quite a ‘meaty’ fish so I wasn’t sure how good this would be, but it was one of my favourite dishes of the night. The fish was rich in flavour, complimented beautifully with the sweet passion fruit. It looked beautiful on the plate too, which is always a bonus.
The Dim Sum platter comes with Scallop Shumai, Beef and Foie Gras Gyoza and Wild Mushroom Spring Rolls. This was another real stand out for me. The scallop was tender and delicious, clearly cooked perfectly. Foie gras is a controversial ingredient at best, but the gyoza were rich in flavour and crammed full with the beef filling. The mushroom spring rolls, which didn’t sound very exciting, were gorgeous too, with plenty of flavour.
Bringing some drama was Japaense Woods. Served gently smoking (steaming? I wasn’t sure if it was dry ice or something else causing this, but it looked very cool), Japanese Woods is textures of salsify, charcoal grilled eel and black garlic. I didn’t really get this dish. It certainly looked impressive and the eel was very tasty, but the ‘bark’ type piece the toppings were laid on was an odd texture and mostly just tasted like burnt toast to me. It was the only misstep with the food though. Others around the table really enjoyed it though, so worth a try anyway.
Next, we were given dishes of some of the main menu to try. The Chilean Sea Bass is served with mandarin and ginger flower, in an enormous rice crisp. The wow factor of the look of this dish is fantastic and I loved how colourful they’d made a dish of white fish. Sea bass is a great fish, and this was very tasty. Well cooked, the strong flavour of the fish was allowed to speak for itself, which is always the best way I think.
The Sesame Otoro Tuna Tataki has a sesame and pine nut crust and is served with textures of apple and yuba. I love tuna like this, just barely seared. It was tender and delicious, with a nice added texture from the crust. The fish at Rofuto remains their strongest point, as I found before. The fish is treated with respect for it’s natural flavour and it makes for incredibly good dishes.
The Red Roast Baby Chicken, with water chestnuts, kumquat and master stock was very good too. The chicken was very juicy and was a generous portion, which I like to see. The rich colour of the sauce invited you to dive in, and the flavours lived up to that visual. There were also Korean Spiced Red Pepper Lamb Chops, which I didn’t get to try, as there weren’t quite enough to go around. Judging by how fast they were devoured though, they were clearly very good!
Finally, very nearly full to the brim, we were presented with a slightly unusual dessert. Miracle Berry is Yuzu Parfait with Togarashi Popcorn and Shiso Sorbet. I love sour flavours and this sharp dish was very refreshing after a big meal. The miracle berry itself has a surprise in store though. After a few minutes, the berry begins to trick your tastebuds into thinking that sour tastes sweet. It did make a little difference, and it was a fun touch that got us all talking.
Rofuto also has an excellent alcohol offering, with an extensive wine and cocktail list. The staff are very knowledgeable; several of them were happy to make suggestions for what we might enjoy from the cocktail menu (including making off menu mocktails for one blogger who was driving) and or came to talk us through each dish. The service at our table was very friendly, and I left very impressed by Rofuto. As when I went a year ago, the stylish atmosphere impressed me, and the sushi was just as good. I was very pleased to find the main menu now matches the sushi in it’s high quality.
Rofuto is not cheap, I admit, but you are getting one hell of an experience for your money, so I think worth it for a special occasion.
I was a guest of Rofuto, but all opinions are honest and my own and I paid for some of my own drinks. I also took lots of photos but my memory card ate them. Thank God for Richard Kiely and his beautiful photographs of the food!