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Robatayaki

Any thoughts on the best place for robatayaki in Tokyo? Robata? Inakaya? Some other place? Doesn't matter?

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  1. I like Aburiya Fudo in Naka-Meguro and Azabu-Juban. And Tetsugen Nikusho in Aoyama. (And pretty much everything else from that company, WID.)

    4 Replies
    1. re: Robb S

      Hi Robb S,

      Nice. :) I looked up both on your excellent site and noticed the Azabu-Juban branch is the one you gave 2 Stars to, but No Stars to the Naka-Meguro branch. Would you say the Azabu-Juban branch is superior? Thanks.

      1. re: exilekiss

        Hmm, I don't know that I'd say that - they both have excellent food and a good selection of drinks. Naka-Meguro I think has some Korean makkoli as well as sake and shochu, or at least they did during my last visit. Whichever you choose, try to get a spot on the first floor where the grill is - it's a much nicer atmosphere than upstairs.

        1. re: Robb S

          The last time I visited the Naka-Meguro branch, about 18 months ago, the focus was on motsu nabe, horumon, offal. and not as traditional robatayaki and inakaya fare as it had previously been. I didn't actually end up eating there, but I got the impression that this had shifted a bit from its' origins....They do, as I recall, have a fantastic shochu selection.

          1. re: Silverjay

            You're right, come to think of it - I seem to remember they did have more innards last time I was there (hanami season 2009), but also sufficient quantities of straight-ahead grilled stuff. Anyway, here's the current menu: http://g.pia.co.jp/shop/7151?view=menu . A lot of those WID restaurants seem to change their menus and formats pretty frequently. (For example the Aoyama Aburiya has turned into a yakitoriya.)

    2. Inakaya is great except for all the tourists and the absolutely ridiculous prices. I invited my cousin for dinner and we were the only ones in the restaurant for almost the entire time we were there. I was having fun and the food was good, so I couldn't figure out why it was so empty until I got the check. We weren't even full, and we drank two large beers each. The bill: ¥55,000. I am not kidding. They charged me ¥8,000 for a small Kinki Shioyaki, which I have had much better elsewhere for ¥2,000. Almost the same for some other fish dish and a couple kuruma-ebi. When we were walking out some Brits were walking in and I realized they stay in business mostly by ripping off tourists. The interior layout is great but you can eat the same thing for a fraction of the price. For the same price we could have eaten kaiseki at Kanda. I'm still fuming about it. Avoid like the plague.

      6 Replies
      1. re: la2tokyo

        It is indeed extremely expensive for what you get, even if you want to pay for the atmosphere. Robata and Robata-ya aren't any cheaper. I really don't know why Robata can be so expensive, it isn't exactly rocket science.

        1. re: la2tokyo

          Amend to that - avoid like the plague, unless you have guests who don't care about paying ludicrously over the odds and might enjoy the atmosphere. The food is good, but not in a million years justifies the prices. I went to Inakaya twice (both in a work context and therefore did not pay) and almost fell off my chair when I was told afterwards how much it had cost per person.

          1. re: Asomaniac

            OK I can agree with that. My cousin enjoyed himself a lot, and since I chose the place I paid the bill without telling him how much it was. He was really happy when he left. If he knew the price he would have either been irritated that I cost us a small fortune or felt bad that I paid ¥27,000 for him to eat dinner. If you're on an expense account it would be a fun place to blow some money.

            BTW it's not exactly robata, but Okajoki in Nakano has incredible grilled fish which they grill around a fire in the middle of the restaurant. It's one of my favorite places to get a simple meal in Tokyo. It may not be right for a big night out, but it's definitely worth trying at least once. If you live in the area you will become a regular. They serve some of the best grilled fish I've ever had.

            http://www.nakano-okajoki.com/

            http://r.tabelog.com/tokyo/A1319/A131...

            1. re: la2tokyo

              Grilling things around a fire in the middle of the restaurant sounds like the very definition of robatayaki.

              As a marketing concept, the robatayaki style of izakaya - rustic farmhouse decor, central open hearth, big wooden paddles to deliver the food - dates back to the 1960s, and it was very popular in the 1970s, declining steadily after that. Because of that old-fashioned image, more modern izakaya usually don't call themselves "robatayaki" even when the grilled food is the same.

              1. re: Robb S

                Personally I can't say with authority that Okajoki is or isn't robata as the initial poster probably imagines it. They are focused almost exclusively on fish. They do not cook directly over a flame, but stand up skewers of fish vertically around a fire. When I think of robatayaki I kind of assume vegetables are involved to some extent, and customers probably order lots of dishes. Also, robata is usually cooked over a flame as opposed to around it. Okajoki basically just has an insanely hot irori in the middle of the restaurant that they stand fish around, which is served in addition to things like sashimi and an enormous onigiri. It's robata, but if you asked me for robata and that's what you got would you still count it as a robata restaurant? For those that have been there, do you tell your friends it's robata? Either way Okajoki is good and I vouch for it. Their ise-ebi is awesome.

                I'll let everyone look at this picture and decide. It's definitely not another Robata-Ya or Inaka-Ya type of place.

                http://www.digitalapoptosis.com/archi...

                1. re: la2tokyo

                  When I mentioned modern izakaya above, I wasn't talking about Okajoki - they're pretty much the archetypal robatayakiya in terms of both food and decor. (But since we're all chowhounds here, I assume we're more interested in the food.)

                  Even if you don't believe me, you can just check Google:
                  Results 1 - 10 of about 1,530 for 陸蒸気 炉端焼
                  (That's "Okajoki" and "robatayaki" as search terms together.)

                  Nice photo by the way!

        2. Another place worth mentioning is Hakobune (http://www.bento.com/rev/2992.html ) where you sit right in front of the fire where your food is cooked. The food is excellent and the sake list is amazing, but unfortunately it can get really hot and uncomfortable there.

          (They also have an all-private-room branch about five minutes away, but there's less atmosphere there)