Opening just below ROKA in the Shochu Lounge, the Kanteen is a fast, casual dining restaurant where you can get yourself a variety of Japanese delights...
What's the concept behind Shochu Kanteen?
It's very much a fast, casual dining experience. It's based on the traditional Japanese Izikaya (a Japenese drinking and quick bites establishment) with simple food.
How will it be different to the Shochu Lounge?
The big difference is the offering; the ambiance will be very different and the menu is completely different. The menu is based around two main things: Japanese ramen and steamed hirata buns with different fillings. There will also be a couple of fried dishes and a selection of salads, which will be served on our Shochu table in great big bowls for guests to choose their selection of choice. We'll also have fresh juices and Japanese-inspired ice tea and a couple of sweet things that will change every day.
What experience do you hope to give guests at Shochu Kanteen?
Fun! Really great food that's quick and easy. The customer can make it what they want; they could be in and out in 15 minutes, or sit down and have a whole casual dining experience, or have a cocktail and a bowl or ramen. It's going to be high-energy, fun and exciting.
So how will you make the ambiance so dynamic?
Food will be a big part of it, but it'll be about the staff. There will be little formalities involved; the lighting and the music will change, so guests will feel like it's a party in their own home.
What inspired the idea of the fast casual concept?
It really came from the needs of the people in the area. As this area's changing a lot, there's a cross-section of people; workers on their breaks looking for quick bites and casual dining.
Do you plan to bring the Kanteen concept internationally?
At the moment, no. It really is just for the locals.
37 Charlotte Street, London, W1T 1RR
(+44) 0 20 7580 6464
Why are you opening a second opening in the year?
Well firstly it's to celebrate Roka's ten year anniversary, and also because the right site came up, which is not easy in London. We have the right people, we're ready for it, we think London's ready for it. It happened quite organically.
How will it differ from the other locations?
Although all our restaurants are similar, they all have their own energies and differences that come about from the local customers. The main difference will be that we have a new designer, Claudio Silvestrin who will keep Roka's soul but take a new approach to it. We're not using a wooden counter, which is a big step. It'll be a different perception of the same idea.
What will the menu include?
The core menus are all essentially the same. As it matures, it will evolve its own features. The chefs and the team will work with the diners to see what they want. For example in Charlotte Street they wanted ribs; at Mayfair they wanted lobster; at Canary Wharf they wanted a steak dish. This is a new area for us, and Aldwych is changing a lot so we're expecting a real cross-section of people; people from the city, the tourists and our loyal customers.
What experience will guests have at Roka Aldwych?
The customer's experience will be the same with regards to the quality of products and level of service, but the ambiance will be different. It's the first time we have a large lounge bar on the same level, and that we have a communal dining table.
What direction do you hope the restaurant to take in its first few years?
We want it to grow with the locals. We will listen to them, find out what they want and let it evolve organically.
Roka Aldwych is set to open mid- to late October.
150 Aldersgate Street, London EC1A 4AB