In this video, we join Shizuka Anderson as she tries out a robatayaki restaurant in Shinjuku, to see exactly what makes this style of dining so special.
Robatayaki is a traditional style of fireside cooking that originated in Hokkaido, the northernmost prefecture of Japan. It quickly became popular further south in Sendai, the capital of Miyagi Prefecture, and uses a special kind of charcoal called binchotan. This “white charcoal” dates all the way back to the Edo period, and is both odorless and smokeless – but when used in robatayaki the juices from the food create smoke when they drip onto the binchotan, infusing the food with a unique and delicious flavor.
Robatasho is a charming hole-in-the-wall restaurant located in Tokyo’s bustling Shinjuku district. It specializes in robatayaki, meaning “food cooked by the fire.” The shop’s interior is traditional and cozy, with a design intended to give customers the warm and welcoming feeling that they’ve just come home.
Robatasho uses artificial charcoal in their robatayaki grill, which is made using domestic cedar and cypress to not only result in great flavor but also be kinder to the environment. In addition, this robatayaki restaurant serves its dishes on extra-long wooden paddles to ensure they stay hot and fresh, which as you can see from the video adds an element of theatrical flair to the dining experience!
When it comes to the food itself, there’s an amazing variety to choose from, and Shizuka tastes her way through a diverse selection while chatting with the friendly staff. To begin with, she tries a range of appetizers including sashimi, a popular potato salad loaded with pepper, crunchy grilled lotus root, and namerou – a unique, chewy fish tataki (fish minced meat) made with miso that’s bursting with flavor.
Shizuka also tries a surprisingly sweet and juicy whole grilled onion that falls open on the plate, as well as a tender shiitake mushroom that comes with its own broth inside. One of the restaurant’s more unique dishes is a mixture of kelp and mascarpone cheese served on crackers, which beautifully combines the saltiness of the seaweed with the creaminess of the cheese. Watch the video to see what Shizuka thinks of it!
The main course is a spiky kichiji rockfish that’s been grilled to perfection so it melts in the mouth, followed by a crispy tsukimi onigiri, grilled rice ball topped with an egg yolk. Finally, for dessert Shizuka enjoys a flaming crème brûlée with a rich black sugar top that gives way to a traditional creamy Japanese egg pudding – the perfect end to a perfect meal!
Want to sample the delights of authentic robatayaki cuisine for yourself? Make a free reservation at Robatasho!
With byFood’s easy restaurant reservation system, it’s easy to make Tokyo restaurant reservations even if you don’t speak Japanese. So whenever you’re next in Tokyo, you can taste some of the delicious dishes Shizuka tried in the video, or see what else on the menu catches your eye!