New York City Review: Robataya

Robataya NY
231 East 9th St.
New York, NY
212 979 9674

As soon as I walked into Robataya, I felt like I was back in Japan.  Everyone greeted us with a powerful “いらっしゃいませ~” (“irasshaimase”, which means welcome) and most of the staff were Japanese.  There were two cooks taking center stage, surrounded by the fresh ingredients and grill.  They sit on a low stool with a cutting board in between them and the grill.  The waiters call out the orders for the grill and the cooks repeat the order and don’t even have to write it down.  They display their knife skills in front of the guests and when they finish plating a dish, they pass it over to the guests using a paddle.  The counter seats were full by 7pm or so and everyone was amused by this show.

This is one of the few authentic Japanese restaurants that I’ve been to in the US and I would definitely go back here for comfort food.  They use quality ingredients and simple cooking methods.  It’s exactly the kind of food I love to eat.  Besides the robatayaki (grill), they also have kamameshi, which is rice cooked in the traditional way (in a kama or pot), with ingredients such as salmon & salmon roe, chicken and burdock and king crab.  Ordering may be a bit of a challenge for first timers but the waiters are prepared to explain the menu and they also have an omakase course.

Kaisou Salad (Kelp Salad with Miso Dressing)
 Grilled Edamame (best edamame I’ve had in the US- grilling them made them more fragrant)
 Gindara saikyoyaki (Sable fish marinated in miso and sake)
 Uni (sea urchin) gratin with salted konbu (kelp)
 Nama-fu Dengaku (with miso paste)
 Squid- SO tender!
 Tsukune (minced chicken with a teriyaki glaze)
 Lamb chops
 Sato-imo (Japanese taro yam)
 Kamameshi (Rice with salmon and salmon roe)

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