The ancient stone streets led me to the hidden pearl of Japanese kitchen in the heart of Antwerp. Fortunately I discovered the magnificent restaurant Roji, which is located on the main restaurant street of Antwerp’s Old Town, close to the Grote Markt. The place, where you get served various delicacies and even dishes that are not available anywhere else in Belgium. Plan to spend the whole evening to enjoy the memorable dining to it’s fullest!
The building used to be a monastery, that was built in the 13th century by monks, so even if the weather is pleasant outside, don’t hesitate to explore the secluded indoors of the restaurant. You will be immersed into a tremendous room with ancient interior, arched vaults and modern design. The warm colors, dimmed lighting, wooden furniture and playful fireplace give the area a cozy and intimate atmosphere, which you will enjoy for the rest of the evening. An impressive fact about Roji, being a very classy and exclusive restaurant, yet the atmosphere doesn’t give off a pretentious and pompous feeling.
Not only the visual aspects of Roji left us speechless, but also the outstanding service. Very polite, professional and knowledgable waiters were emphasizing our memorable experience the whole evening. When we entered the place we were led to a big comfortable couch just next to the warm fireplace. We received hot, moist towels to clean our hands, which is a great opportunity for very hygienic people!
Afterwards we were handed a menu with drinks, which spoiled us for choice! Various cocktails, that you won’t find in every bar or restaurant, sounded delicious and the funny addition to the description made us giggle. So in the end after much deliberation we decided to try the non alcoholic “Bangkok Non-Stop” and Gin-based “Budo”. The description of “Budo” said it’s a perfect start of the wonderful evening and it was indeed! Both cocktails were refreshing and delightful to enjoy. Judging by the great quality of the cocktails the prices, which vary from 7-15€, were more than acceptable.
Did you know that Japanese Whisky is one of the most exquisite all over the world, receiving international top honors? So if you have passion for this strong spirit, then Roji will be a Whisky epitome for you! The menu includes various splendid Whisky sorts, including the famous Hibiki and Yamazaki.
Time to taste Roji
The beginning of our delicious journey started with a collection of fingerfood, including delicacies like Tempura Soft Shell Crab, fried to perfection, Edamame beans, flavored with a touch of sea salt, scrumptious Tuna tartare accompanied by ginger, wasabi and avocado and last but not least royal springrolls filled with juicy crab. The ensemble was perfectly culminated by a trio of Japanese sauces. My favorite of which was the unusual red salty yuzu, with a note of citrus. Every masterpiece on the plate was divine! My tip, you can order mixed plate with 7 different components just for 17€ p.P. Amazing deal for amazing quality!
More drinks! After a phenomenal starter we turned our attention back to the cocktails. Jackpot! We found a liquid jewel, that perfectly complements Japanese cuisine: Basil Smash. A gin based cocktail mixed with basil, sugar and lime. An ideal example that perfection lays in simplicity.
Not every sushi is the same sushi
Nowadays sushi is a familiar and beloved meal all over the world. The same sorts are available in every city, so to find a unique sushi taste is a challenge. Roji’s creative hands will surprise you with an unexpected fusion of French sophistication and Japanese tradition. We were spoiled with a plate full of various rolls, including Tako, Tamago, Tokyo Roll, Roji Roll and sashimi with salmon, tuna and seabass, which had a delicate fresh taste. We were seduced by the indescribably delicious Sexy Rolls, filled with scampi, spicy green onion, eel, flying fish roe and small orange fish eggs, masago. The prices may seem extravagant for sushi but let me remind you, the symbiosis of the French and Japanese kitchen in one little roll, will make you experience fireworks of flavors in your mouth. And if you’re interested in trying experimental dishes, believe me, every penny would worth that one!
After sushi followed black cod, marinated for 48 hours in white miso-sake, served with sweet potato, pumpkin and soy sauce with salted citrus. The fish was tender, melting on the tongue like butter. The choice of flavors and spices was a perfect match to bring the best out of the dish. We enjoyed every bite of this culinary delight.
Have you ever heard about the most expensive and high quality beef in the whole world, Japanese wagyu meat? If not, then it is time to widen your foodie knowledge. Wagyu is a Japanese beef cattle breed from Kobe, where “Wa” means Japanese and “Gyu” means cow. These animals are famous for it’s breeding and feeding techniques. The cows get massaged and fed with only beer or sake, which logically influences the texture and quality of the meat. The beef is intensely marbled with softer fat and is lower in cholesterol than any other competitor. Exactly right, it has a unique taste and it’s additionally healthy for you.
Savoring one highlight after another we reached the climax of our magnificent dining experience. After our positive surprise finding Wagyu on the menu, we couldn’t resist to experience the exquisite taste of this Japanese delicacy. Later on we were also informed that the chef personally flies to Japan every 2-3 months to choose the perfect slice of wagyu meat. Although he expands his knowledge in Japanese cooking techniques and methods, to prepare masterpieces on the plate in an authentic way. But back to the wagyu beef! I will warn you now, once you’ve tried this Japanese deliciousness, you will realise the value and genuine taste of beef. The tenderness, succulence, smooth velvety texture and delicate but rich character will linger on the palate! Words can not describe the excellent flavor, you must experience it yourself. Roji is the only restaurant in Belgium, that serves this slice of paradise for it’s guests. Moreover you can enjoy wagyu for the modest price of 78€, which is even cheaper then in it’s homeland.
Every good thing has an end…
An ideal way to round up your magnificent meal is doubtlessly with a great dessert. Especially if you prefer a light, tasty and not too sweet dessert with lemon notes, then it would serve you well to chose Roji’s brand new final course. A lemon cake with flambéed meringue on top and honey crumbles with homemade vanilla ice cream on the side. The trio of sweetness, sourness and crustiness will leave a refreshing aftertaste and satisfy your senses to it’s fullest potential. By the end of the evening you will be floating in culinary Nirvana.
My verdict is that Roji is an amazing place for a memorable dining evening and a must visit in Antwerp. If you finally found a date and want to impress your chosen one, Roji has all the ingredients to make your rendezvous to fall in love with you. People who are not on the love path can come here for a celebration or family gathering to never forget. Finally if you are looking to treat your stomach as a king, there is no better place than incredible Roji! Bon appétit and kanpai!