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Jun 11, 2009 04:58 PM

Robatayaki in Toronto?

Does anyone know of an authentic Robata (Japanese grill) restaurant in the GTA?

I was reading about Raku in Las Vegas and never made it there last time I was in Vegas. I'm looking for something similar - small plates (almost tapas-style) and authentic (grilled on a hibachi over whatever wood/charcoal they use).

The last time I had really authentic yakitori, it was many years ago at Hiro Sushi. It was a revelation. The flavours imparted by the grill were amazing. Most yakitori you get these days are just baked or cooked on a gas grill. No smoky goodness!

If anyone can help me with my craving...

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  1. I don't think there's a traditional robata in Toronto. If there were one, I'm not sure it would be very good, and there's no way they'd be using bincho-tan.

    I think the closest thing you'd find in Toronto is probably Korean BBQ, but that's not really the same thing.

    Are you looking for robata specifically (I don't think there are many authentic robata places in the US either, though there might be some), or yakitori? Unfortunately, I haven't had any really good yakitori in Toronto ever either, but Charles_Yu once mentioned something about good yakitori at Japango a while back that I never did end up checking on (since I'm not a big fan of Japango). Maybe you should give them a call and see?

    Not a restaurant suggestion, but yakitori is probably easier to make than finding a decent version in a Toronto restaurant! If you're really craving it, you might just have to make it yourself :-)

    4 Replies
    1. re: tjr

      Thanks, I'll check out Japango soon.

      I'd love to find some good yakitori but I'd really like a casual place to hang out with friends and eat a huge selection of tasty bites. And I like the idea of little Japanese bites more than the traditional Spanish tapas, which we've all had repeatedly, I'm sure.

      Maybe a Japanese entrepreneur will stumble upon this post and open one up?

      1. re: chefhound

        Though I'm not fond of the yakitori at Ematei (noted below), you should probably try visiting! It's a very good Japanese restaurant, though there are many items you should not order: sushi, ramen, etc. A lot of the izakaya-style dishes are fairly good, especially things like the grilled fish. They usually have a lot of specials, and depending on your appetite and how many people you are with, you can do a lot of sharing.

        1. re: tjr

          Solo Sushi Ya's yakitori is very good too. I heard that Bruce of Japango works at Solo years ago before opening Japango, if I remember correctly, or please let me know if I am wrong on this.

      2. re: tjr

        It took a while but I finally got around to Japango. The yakitori was great. The chicken was juicy and smokey. And the sauce was delicious too. I can't remember if the yakitori was better at Hiro and since they don't serve it anymore, I can't go back to compare. Either way, I've found a place to get great yakitori!! Yay!

        122 Elizabeth St, Toronto, ON M5G1P5, CA

      3. Nami has a pretty nice robata set-up.

        For yakitori, I think Ematei does a fair job with them...doesn't quite touch what I've eaten in yakitori-ya in Japan, or Totto in NY for that matter, but certainly on the same level as what one would get in a standard izakaya in Japan.

        4 Replies
        1. re: childofthestorm

          I wouldn't really say the robata at Nami is very much like robata in Japan though. It's more the North American version that appears in the States. And no bincho-tan :-(

          Ematei's yakitori is just okay. It might be as good as the yakitori at Hiro, or something, I don't know, but I don't find it to even be up to the level of most "standard" izakaya. Maybe a mediocre one?

          1. re: tjr

            Could have been! When I lived in Japan there was no Chowhound. I just went to where there was cold beer and hot food.

            1. re: tjr

              Ame (the new Rain) will be using binchotan.

              1. re: ace123

                I wonder if the food will be any better than its previous incarnation (and hopefully without the unwarranted attitude)!

          2. Had dinner at Nami tonight and will have dinner at Aburiya Raku in Las Vegas next week to compare. At Nami, we really enjoyed the horse mackerel and whole sea bass (with grilled zucchini and asparagus), but the unagi was our favourite robata dish. I don't know what it would taste like cooked over white charcoal, but will ask about charcoal type next time.