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IMG_5643On Denny’s Birthday, At the beautiful Grill Bar at Robataya NYC

Emi’s dear nephew Denny’s visiting us from Italy for about 2 and a half weeks. He has just arrived in time for his 24th birthday! I can’t believe our little Denny I met 18 years ago ( then 6!) is now all grown up handsomely with a great job as well!  It’s always nice to have Denny at our home and  it’s just really nice to have your family visit from oversea when especially we are the only ones away from home. Before Denny arrived we had a few things in our mind to do together with him and for sure we knew where to take Denny for his big 24th birthday.

Robataya on the 9th street in East village!

I have been eyeing on this place since the last James Blake concert Heidi and I went near the restaurant. We were looking for an easy quick dinner before the show and ended up walking into little Japan area that is happening around the 9th street. I was pleasantly surprised to see quite a few cute Japanese restaurants and tea houses on one single block. It quickly brought me fun memories from my numerous trips to Tokyo!  Bit small and tucked in… A hole on the wall… A little place on the second floor somewhere selling delicious food and drinks…

Robataya is bit fancier than any other ones on the block. The concept of Robataya is not something too up-scaled or so unique as Robatayaki ( Japanese grilling) in Japan is sort of common street food or hearty quick bar food, but this particular one in East village sure scores higher note on the beautiful setting of their Grill bar consisting of wood banquets and chairs that mimics the setting of an open market. The setting is grand but also intimate enough to enjoy the company of rest of the customers sitting at the bar. There’s this sense of “Togetherness” sitting around watching and admiring 2 master chefs’ well skilled clean cooking as a center focus. I really like this.

IMG_5636It’s very common to order directly to the chef as normally the grill bar scale is smaller and also customers sit closer to the chef. Think Sushi Bars. But at Robataya, there are a couple waiters will assist you.  I think they wanted to make this easier for both the chefs and the customers and it felt definitely more up-scaled. The guy with a head wrap was one of them.

IMG_5657Our cool 2 chefs for the night. The chef on the left cooked all the dishes we had. The wooden panel in front of him displays his proud name.


IMG_5640I must say watching chefs’ moves at this Robataya is quite entertaining. They don’t put up any sort of show but their whole cooking and getting things are just very interesting! As you can see most of ingredients for any grilling is displayed in front of chefs and it’s sure an eye candy.



IMG_5645Chefs serve the finished dishes and beer bottles to customers at the bar on that long wooden stick with flat tray at the end. Can you see it…? One guy grabbing a beer bottle off the wooden stick!

IMG_5659This is THE SLAT Robataya uses for all their cooking. DELICIOUS!!!  Anything you eat you can really taste the deep flavor of this real good salt. I think good salt does the half of the job for any cooking! Maldon from England is also my favorite!

IMG_5618So we were seated in front of Mushroom area and we had tasted 2 kinds. The super big one ( no it’s not porcini) and the little ones on the front on the right side. Sorry didn’t get all the names…

IMG_5647Kobe Beef. Yes it was tender!

IMG_5625Also we had ordered fried oysters in a graded radish sauce. It was bit odd I must admit.

IMG_5649Here comes another pass of beer bottle from the chef!

IMG_56242 and a half of handsome generations!  From left Denny the birthday boy, Gael the lucky one and my man, Emiliano!


IMG_5663Happy birthday to you, Denny again!  We love you Denny!!

This is what we had for the night: Snow crab dumplings in clear broth, fried oysters in graded radish sauce, 2 kinds of grilled mushrooms and fresh lemon squeeze, repeat the mushroom because it was so good! Grilled yam with butter, grilled Kobe beef, duck and lamb, simmered pork belly in soy and ginger, simmered short rib in clear broth and chunk of radish, roasted rice balls in 2 ways: one with miso and the other one with soy sauce ( soooo goooddd!), lots of beer for guys and Junmai Ginjo for me the whole time.

Check it out! You will love it!


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