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Domo Arigato Mr. Roboto: a.k.a. Mr. Robata Restaurant

Robata, translated “around the fireplace,” is a Japanese cooking technique involving grilling. 

Traditionally a charcoal heating device called an "irori" was placed in the center of a home to heat it, doubling as a cooking element. Used since ancient times, it has, as you can imagine, resulted in a long tradition of succulent and healthy recipes. Robata cooking is not very well known in the United States so to have Mr. Robata in the center of Manhattan is a treat.

The Mr. Robata name of the restaurant is a throwback to the prog-rock 80’s hit “Domo Arigato Mr. Roboto,” which gives you a hint of the playfulness that chef Masaki Nakayama brings to this culinary extravaganza. Orchestrating each dish behind the narrow kitchen, Naka, as he prefers to be called, interacts with guests with a wink and a smile. Have you had enough? Are you still hungry? More tapas? Sitting at the bar, you feel welcome as well as entertained. Indeed Naka makes his guests feel as if they are part of some improvisational theater just off of Broadway which is, after all, across the street.

Naka's style of cooking for Mr .Robata can best be described as nontraditional, playful, a fusion of French and Latino styles, and definitely well executed. You will not be disappointed. Flavors that you would not expect to go well together become a masterful delight under Naka's careful tutelage.

But Mr. Robata also has a secret weapon. Her name is Sara Ikegami, Mr. Robata's sommelier, who's extensive wine and sake knowledge has prepared her to pair these fusion dishes to your delight. She is more than willing to explain each pairing with typical Japanese kindness and hospitality. She stays out of your way but attentively reaches out to answer your question or offer another glass. Of course, the fact that they offer a wide selection of by the glass wines and sake makes it possible for you to refine each pairing to go perfectly with each course.

Some of the items that you will find at Mr .Robata include:

  • Braised Tuna
  • Lobster ceviche
  • A variety of salads (Spicy Tofu Salad, Seaweed Salad, Quinoa Shrimp Salad)
  • Grilled Octopus (Roasted Artichoke, Tomato Salsa, Snow Cristal, Pesto, Wasabi Mashed Potato)
  • Robata (Baby Carrot, Zucchini, Eringi Mushroom, Braised Pork Belly, Filet Mignon)

For dessert such unique presentations as:

  • Eggplant Comport
  • Lychee Zenzai
  • Orange scented Chocolate Mousse

It would be a shame to go to Mr. Robata as a fast pre-theater dinner. Treat yourself and give yourself the extra time to enjoy what Mr. Robata has to offer.

Here are some of the sake that we sampled. They have such a wide selection of sakes that I could not tear myself away from them, but do not fear, their wine selection is just as extensive and of excellent quality.

  • Denshin Spring (Fukui)
  • Yuzu Omoi (Kyoto) Japanese Citrus Sake
  • Miyasaka (Nagano)
  • Miyozakura (Gifu)
  • Born (Fukui)

Mr. Robata is located at 1674 Broadway at 52nd Street, and opened to the public on March 4, 2011. Mr. Robata is open daily from noon to 3:00AM, and is available for semi-private events. For more information, please call (212) 757-1030, or visit http://www.mrrobata.com.  

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