We stumbled upon this little gem around chinese new year holiday in Shanghai, where most restaurants were still closed for the holiday. The restaurant turned out to be a perfect choice to beat the bitter cold weather in Shanghai. The open kitchen with a large wooden fire in the middle of the restaurant, surely kept us all warm on a cold winter night. Warm sake keep refilled and delicious grilled food scent wafting in the air. Certainly brings a homey feeling. The main activities are around the robata where the chef are busy preparing food, cooking, plating and presenting them to the customers. They will keep you entertained while you eat your meal. Robatayaki restaurants specialize in all manner of grilled from crab, prawns, beef, whole fish, vegetables, root veggies, fruit to ginko nuts. Ro means “hearth” and yaki means “grilled.”
Typical of this restaurant is they are very theatrical — the cooks and waiters shout out every order and detail of the cooking. They also notice what customers do, especially if you drink toast with your friends, they would surely shout out “kampai” in unison.
Later on, I learned that “robata” is centuries-old country style of communal cooking by northern Japanese fishermen. The heat provides cooking as well as heating. After some time the style of cooking becomes popular and has been introduced worldwide.
With robata concept, they pretty much grill everything on the menu. But don’t worry about getting smokes in your hair, they use premium grade of charcoal resulting in clean heat smoke-free room. After we picked the fish, a young robata chef put a skewer through, sprinkled some salt and left the fish next to the burning charcoals with its head down letting all the juice dripping down…..
While waiting for the fish, we ordered a sashimi platter – the shrimps is so fresh and sweet! then some spicy tuna rolls which I think we ended up ordering 3 more plates of them, pork with melted cheese, smokey char-grilled eggplants – seriously charred the skin of the eggplants, peeled them and then served with a handful of bonito shaves on top. Also, another 3 plates of them.
I couldn’t really remember what other dishes, but the six of us seemed to keep munching on something until finally the fish are cooked! Served on a shamuji (pretty cool looking wooden paddle).
Robata-cooked fish are clean and dry, very crispy on the skin but leaving the flesh tender and juicy. The head is also crunchy, so if you’re a fishhead eater, don’t miss this one…
Delicious meal, cheerful staff, excellent fast service, genuine smiling chefs. What more could we ask for. Seafood was so fresh, reminds me of the fresh scallops we picked up from the ocean of new zealand.