How long do you think it will be before I make a Styx reference? I give it…a few more sentences.
I visited Mr. Robata last Friday night for dinner with my friend (and fellow half-Greek) Alex, and we nearly closed the place down because we had such a good time. The service was excellent, the drinks were strong (albeit a bit pricey at $16), and the food was great. Mr. Robata is a Japanese sushi bar and grill in Times Square with French influences – they even have foie gras and fondue! Miso fondue! Ooooo…
Turns out "robata" is not just a silly name – it's a Japanese slow-grilling technique used on meats, fish and vegetables. I wanted to try some of the vegetables from the robata simply because I was getting soy and honey-glazed chicken wings as an appetizer. They had chicken wings on the robata too, but I couldn't pass up the glazed version; they were meaty, savory and sweet with a crispy fried skin, and slightly crunchy from the sesame seeds on top. Nom nom nom. After we were done licking our fingers clean (keepin' it classy as always), we had some of the vegetables which came with a plethora of dipping sauces. I don't even remember all of them, but I remember ginger teriyaki glaze, yuzu miso, and wasabi cream cheese. We had the Eringi mushrooms and eggplant, and for all of you vegetarians out there (who probably don't read this blog anyway), the mushrooms are a good substitute since they had a rich, meaty texture.
I had read about the chef at Mr. Robata hailing from Sushi of Gari (one of my favorite sushi places in Hells Kitchen), so I had to try their Nigiri, and fortunately they offer a $25 sampler of Nigiri. The fish was very fresh and perfectly topped with a palate-pleasing sauce. A few I really liked: o-toro with mango, salmon with avocado and a fried zucchini chip, and fluke with olive tapenade.
In terms of sushi rolls, we split a special Maki roll called "Misty": a riceless spicy tuna roll with King crab wrapped in thin sliced cucumber. Dee-lish. Really. A carb-haters dream come true. I never knew I could like a sushi roll sans rice AND believe it or not, this one was topped with a tomato salsa, avocado and cilantro. We know how much I hate cilantro, but it didn't overpower the other flavors at all. Domo arigato, Mr. Robata, for introducing me to that. HA! I made it about 4 paragraphs which I think is PRETTY good.
For dessert, we enjoyed some chocolate-orange mousse with our cocktails. The mousse texture was a little off had a lot of air bubbles in it – but the orange zest gave it a nice touch. I wouldn't come here for the dessert, but the cocktails are a big draw in my opinion; crisp and clean with lots of interesting combinations. And um…strong. I'm no lightweight but after just one "Yuzu Sour" I was feeling a little lightheaded.
Mr. Robata shows a lot of promise, though I think the prices and the location might hurt them a bit; it's not very noticeable and it's right next to Flashdancers (now you'll notice it I bet). Not necessarily a bad thing – perhaps that's where they got the name for the riceless Maki roll. And they do have a prix-fixe theater menu which is a pretty good deal: 3-courses f0r $40 pp. Click here for menu.