Robataya: Edible Beauty
For years the foodies I trust have been urging me to go try Robataya, the Japanese robatayaki restaurant on East 9th Street. In the evenings, the front of the restaurant dominates the action with its semi-circle of seats around the boisterous central hearth (ro meaning fireplace, bata meaning around and yaki meaning grill).
However, on a recent Tuesday at lunchtime the scene is placid and inspiring. With Japanese restauranteur Kazusa Jibiki of Lovely Day as my guide, we swanned past the resting robatayaki room into the sun-filled chamber behind. Decorated for the Tanabata festival, serene paper constellations evoking the stars and deep sea life hung from the bamboo ceiling. Light filtered down to us as it would if we were sitting on the ocean floor, illuminating the jewel-like sashimi and uni ikura don in front of me.
In addition to the plentiful portions (lunch includes a green salad, entrée and miso soup), there is a “bar” of pickled vegetables which patrons are welcome to graze at: fresh crudités with miso sauce to dip them in, sautéed spinach, lotus roots, yams and konjac.
Robataya at lunch time reminded me of the restorative power of a carefully curated Japanese environment. With more sultry uni than I could finish, a delicate little bouquet of thistles on our table and the serene paper shapes swaying ever so slightly over our heads, it was an ideal meal that I cannot wait to repeat.
231 East 9th St.
New York, NY 10003
Telephone: (212) 979-9674
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