Japanese Izakaya in Soho
We visited Robata, a Japanese Izakaya in Soho, to try some of their signature dishes. Robata, meaning fireside, specialises in Japanese charcoal cooking. It was a tradition first introduced by ancient fisherman using boxes of hot coals to warm their food as they gathered their day’s catch.
The menu is helpfully split into different sections: raws and sushi, small plates, skewers, bao buns, large plates and bowls. We visited on a Wednesday evening and it was busy, with a buzzing atmosphere. With the fairly small and intimate feel, it reminded us of being in Japan at one of their very many izakayas. There are stool seats looking out on to Soho at the front of the restaurant and then covers spanning to the end of the restaurant.
The cocktail menu unsurprisingly focuses on the Japanese specialty of sake and, of course, Asahi. There are also a variety of other spirits, wines and beers available. We kicked off with two pretty strong cocktails: Shoga Asahi Frangelico, ginger syrup, fresh ginger, topped up with draught Asahi (£10) and Nigai Bombay Sapphire gin: Campari, Evangelista Ratafia (£11).
The Small Plates
We wanted to order one of each of the small plates as they all looked so delicious. We ended up choosing 4 small plates which arrive as soon as they are ready.
The Steamed edamame with gochugaru chilli flakes (£4.50) arrived first and had an extra kick with chilli which we loved. The J fried Karage: chicken thigh, gochujang mayo and fresh lime (£8.50) was absolutely delicious. It was so moist and tender with a thin fried coating. and the accompanying dip was incredible with spicy connotations.
The Chilli Pepper Squid with yuzu and coriander (£8) was tasty but we were not huge fans of the dip. We loved the Pork Gyoza (4pcs) with waterchestnut shitake spring onion and chilli soy (£8). They were packed with filling and the chilli soy was delightful.
Bao Buns, Skewers and Large Plates
There is a wide selection of Robata Skewers (minimum order two pieces) ranging from chicken thigh, beef fillet and pork belly to hand dived scallop and King oyster mushroom. We opted for the Iberico Pluma with black pepper miso (£4.50). After having one bite of the skewer I couldn’t resist walking up to the chef and congratulating him on such an absolutely incredibly cooked piece of meat. It was so succulent, tender and flavoursome and pretty much melted in your mouth. Big statement but this is literally one of the best things that I have ever tasted!
From the bao bun section we tried the Braised short ribs with mayo pickled jalapeño, lettuce and melted cheese (£16). Again these were packed with filling and the accompaniments complimented the meat well.
From the large plates, the signature dish is the Iberico Pork Pluma. If we had known how good the meat was, we probably would have opted for that! However, we were also recommended the Hay Flamed Beef Fillet 200g (£25) smoked and cooked over hay served with yakiniku, chimichurri and chilli oil. We overheard a gentleman at another table saying that was the best beef he had ever tasted and he wasn’t far off! Arriving on a grill so the meat stayed warm, it was extremely tender and flavoursome. The choice of dips were a perfect selection offering different textures and flavours.
This Japanese Izakaya in Soho was an absolute gem of a find and one that we can’t wait to return to. We were so impressed with the quality of the offering – the Iberico skewers are an absolute must order! The service was friendly and the staff were happy to recommend cocktails and dishes from the menu. The atmosphere was buzzing and it is now climbed up to one of my favourite restaurants in London!
East London Girl: Robata
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