Tokyo - Reasonably priced Robatayaki
- OC Mutt Nov 14, 2013 11:31 AM
Would the Japan/Tokyo hounds be so kind as to recommend some reasonably priced Robatayaki restaurants in Tokyo (my Japanese friend has just told me that Yakitori only refers to chicken, and that Robata would have grilled skewers of many different types of proteins - if I am incorrect about this, please let me know the type of place I'm looking for). I found a place in Roppongi on an internet search and cannot reconcile spending $150 per person for grilled skewers so I was hoping to get some help to find the local gems. Thank you for your help!
Disclaimer: YES, I did do several searches for Robatayaki and the only thread that came up was from 2010. I even tried different spellings and separated the words into Robata yaki (one post from 2007).
I strongly recommend Inakaya in Roppongi. Just kidding. There is this place in Shinbashi which is quite famous and quite modestly priced. It's off the Akarenga doori, on one of the perpendicular streets, halfway down the street between the Akarenga and the train tracks. Coming down from Shinbashi station, make a left at the sushi joint, small place halfway down the block.
Probably others here can be specific with the name and address, but I really like this place, completely old-school.
A lot of modern izakaya serve meat, vegetables and seafood that are charcoal-grilled, often over an open hearth, but they don't use the word "robatayaki" because it has certain old-fashioned connotations. Back in the mid-1970s one particular chain of restaurants became very successful using a formula of charcoal-grilling in that style, in restaurants with a farmhouse decor and various rustic bric-a-brac, and then a lot of other restaurants copied that style and called themselves "robatayaki" - some of them still exist today, but the numbers are dwindling.
So if you're interested in the food rather than the decor, look for places that do charcoal-grilling and have a good reputation. If you like rustic decor, Okajoki in Nakano (03-3228-1230) does a good job with both food and atmosphere.
If you don't mind good food in a less cliched, more up-to-date setting, I like Sakaeya in Takadanobaba (http://bento.com/r-jap.html#izakaya ) and Ebisu, Shunju in Takeike and elsewhere around town, Hakobune in Ginza (03-6280-6330), Dedesuke in Ebisu (03-3444-5511), and many others.... Just look for charcoal-grilling or "aburiyaki".
re: Robb S
Okajoki is great but I don't think they sell much besides fish. They have some shellfish too, but I don't think I've ever seen them cooking meat. If the OP is looking for "many different types of proteins" I'm not sure that Okajoki is the spot. If you like grilled fish it's a fantastic choice though. Everything they serve is quite good.
Ushi no Yotare, in Shinjuku, is a great option for robatayaki. They grill a wide variety of protein (beef, chicken, fish, tofu) and vegetables in an irori charcoal pit. You can order a la carte or choose from a couple of course options. The staff have been friendly and welcoming to English speaking guests I've sent there in the past, too.