There are several Robata restaurants in NY now but Inakaya happened to be quite close to where I run a lot of errands. I’m not good at explaining things without sounding robotic so if you want to know more about what Robatayaki is click on the word Robatayaki.
Japanese business men love places like this, it’s perfect for after work drinking. When you go to one in Japan, it’s quite common to walk in and see these business men with hookers or high class escorts picking on tasty grilled seafood and meat… Alcoholism is rampant in countries like Korea and Japan, where there is a lot of social pressure to succeed not only in academics and in work. It’s quite funny, between 9-7 in these countries, everything is quite nice and normal, peaceful. And then all the gremlins come out at night..Jekyll and Hyde style.
Every time your order is ready, they stand over the counter and place the food on these really long wooden handles, think of like a wooden pizza boards with a smaller board and a super long arm. In the 1st photo you see the kind server taking care of my sake order.
My favorite part about this kind of cuisine is the simple cooking method and requisite drinking. This place gets very busy at lunch as it caters to working professionals around the area (people at NYTIMES, and other fashion folk) but it’s not a fashionable district at all, in fact POPEYES is just across the street. The restaurant is not exclusive or trendy either which is something I prefer for casual dining.
Our 1st order, salty citrus-y shisito peppers, one of my favorite japanese greens next to shiso leaves. As lunch got busy, the bar was completely packed with people ordering bento boxes or spicy tuna rolls with miso soup. In fact I heard one girl next to me go, “Uhm can I get that Spicy Tuna roll with avocado and no cucumber please??”…For the life of me I can’t understand why you’d order that if you come to a Robata restaurant…To the bottom right you see some freshly grated ginger.
Grilled over charcoal and blistered to perfection.
And moving onto some crowd pleaser favorites, yummy chicken and chicken meatball sticks. The chicken meatball was the best I’ve ever had.
Raw oysters with scallion, grated daikon and ponzu sauce.
Grilled oysters, perfection.
Grilled clams over some salt…
One of my favorite things to eat.
Alright so I had to save the best dish here for last. The best thing to order here in my opinion is the chicken thigh. For some reason it was the best grilled thigh ever, the skin was left on and super crusty…and with just a squeeze of lemon, some salt and Shichimi (this means 7 flavor chili pepper in Japanese, it’s that stuff they serve with Udon) you’ll have to order piece. That’s exactly what I did.
To finish off, some Chazuke with Salmon roe. Rice in tea broth with Ume Plum. Because I was focused on getting some simple grilled seafood action I missed out on ordering the Wagyu sticks, but to be honest I think it may have a hard time beating that chicken thigh…Thanks for reading.