There aren’t that many gaps in Birmingham’s restaurant scene, but one of the glaring ones was a lack of really good Japanese restaurants, aside from Sushi Passion (which is beautiful, by the way, I reviewed it last year) and the ever-present high street staple Wagamama.
The restaurant is cleverly designed with Japanese style screens to give each table some privacy, a beautiful central bar which creates a focal point, and a long, open kitchen at the rear. The decor is stylish but informal, and the staff are immaculately dressed.
My partner and I were invited to review Rofuto last Thursday, so we went along after work. I’d already heard positive reviews from other bloggers, including the esteemed Paul Fulford, so I had high expectations.
From the moment we walked into Rofuto, we were treated like we were special. From being escorted to the lift and having it called for us, to a warm and friendly greeting from front of house, to being introduced to our waiter (I think his name was Callum, but I apologise if I have it wrong!). The staff aren’t just friendly either, their knowledge of the menu and ability to make recommendations from it based on your taste is commendable.
We started our meal with cockatils, I opted for the Ronin out of Time after a recommendation from Vicky and Dan at Brumderland while Steven went for the Melon Fizz.
Ronin out of Time was a really smooth drink with Nikka whisky, plum sake and bitters. One to savour and enjoy. Steven’s Melon Fizz was fruity, sweet and refreshing with Midori, vodka and lemonade.
It took us a long time to decide what to eat, as everything sounds amazing. The menu is split into sections: sushi, starters, tempura, robata grill, sides and mains. If you truly can’t decide, the waiting staff can create a selection for you. For 2 people, they recommend 2 sushi, 2 starters or tempura, 2 mains and at least 1 side. We finally made our minds up and decided to start with pickled mackerel sashimi and eel hosomaki.
The presentation is nothing short of stunning. The pickled mackerel was finely sliced and presented in a bowl of ice with pickled ginger, wasabi and mixed leaves, and it tasted as good as it looked. The rich, oily mackerel was complimented by the delicate vinegariness from the pickling. The texture was firm but tender. A brilliant start.
The sushi was also beautifully presented.
I can honestly say that the eel hosomaki was one of my favourite sushi dishes ever. The rice was cooked perfectly, the rich, oily eel was balanced by the intensely savoury sauce and the cucumber sauce on the plate cut through with a refreshing note. I would definitely order this again.
Next we shared salt and pepper squid from the tempura menu and seared scallops with kaiso salad from the starter selection.
I love scallops, but so often they’re not done as well as they could be. These on the other hand were cooked just as they should be, sweet, fat and tender, balanced with a topping of salty roe and sat on a bed of seaweed. This was a truly beautiful dish to look at and to eat.
The squid was just as impressive, with a very light, crisp tempura batter with herbs and perfectly cooked squid. I especially liked the tentacles!
For our mains, Steven opted for saffron miso black cod with razor clams and pancetta, while I had slow braised belly pork kakuni with cavolo nero. Our lovely waiter selected a wine for us to match our dishes, a Riesling (Dr Loosen I think) which was fruity with a slight sparkle on the tongue. It worked really well with both of our dishes.
Steven said the flavour of the cod was very good, but the texture was a little soft for his liking. He loved the razor clam.
My dish pork was really delicious, the fat had kept the meat really juicy, the cavolo nero (my favourite) gave a hint of bitterness and was dressed in a gorgeous sauce, while the topping of crisp onion shards rounded off the dish. I enjoyed the sauce so much I actually started dipping my side of broccoli in it!
The portion sizes are not too big, but the meal so far left us more than satisfied. I considered skipping pudding but after the manager recommended the Matcha tiramisu and a white chocolate martini to finish everything off, I couldn’t say no! Steven decided on a Japanese coffee and shared the Matcha tiramisu with me.
I love matcha when combined with dairy, as it gives it a sweet, nutty flavour. Pairing matcha soaked sponges with sweet, whipped cream made this a light but luxurious dessert with a lovely green tea flavour.
The white chocolate martini was lethal, in the sense that it was so delicious and easy to drink, it went down far too quickly! Paired with hand made chocolate marshmallows, it was a perfect end to a wonderful meal.
Without wanting to gush, my meal at Rofuto was one of the most enjoyable I’ve had in quite a long time. The quality is right up there with that of some of my favourite Birmingham based chefs including Aktar Islam and Glynn Purnell. Des McDonald has created something really special. Rofuto delivers on every element, the food, the drinks, the service and the view, unlike other rooftop restaurants boasting stunning views, that leave a lot to be desired in all other areas.
I have already rebooked to return to Rofuto, and I am thoroughly looking forward to going back and trying out more dishes.
I was invited to review Rofuto and my meal with drinks was complimentary, many thanks to the team there, especially our waiter. All opinions are, as always, my own, and I was under no obligation to provide a positive review.