An evening out at Robata…
By Layla Turner
Nobody ever needs an excuse to head to Soho. The abundance of bars, shops and restaurants make it a choice favourite for Londoners – and high on the to visit list is Robata, the friendly neighbourhood sushi bar nestled in the heart of Soho on Old Compton Street.
Open from 5pm until 11pm on weekdays and 12pm til late on Saturdays and Sundays, Robata is the perfect destination for after work drinks, weekend lunches and, naturally, delicious sushi. The drinks list is extensive; the brave among you should try ‘Judai No Ai’, a fiery blend of star anise, ginger and Japanese pink pepper that’s sure to awaken the senses. For those looking for something a little less intense, there are 22 cocktails available.
Robata translates as ‘fireside’, and the restaurant specialises in Japanese charcoal cooking. For those wanting the full Robata experience, the tasting menu (available for a minimum of two people), offers guests a chance to experience the chefs’ top picks from sushi to small plates including salmon rolls, chilli pepper squid, hay flamed beef fillet and black cod. The restaurant is only too happy to cater to its vegetarian guests too.
Whilst my guest and I are weighing up our choices for the evening, the attentive waiting staff give us a background into the history of the restaurant and ingredients used within the kitchen, with the chef adding his own spin on classic Japanese dishes. As a newbie to the sushi scene, I am advised to order the beef tataki and avocado rolls, as well as the beef fillet, chilli pepper squid, pork gyoza and truffle fries.
As we wait for the food to arrive, we have the chance to explore the restaurant. On a hot evening like today, Soho could be mistaken for sunny Barcelona, and Robata has an extensive outdoor seating area available so diners can enjoy the warm weather that London so rarely experiences (there is also a covered area in the inevitable instance that it will rain). The interiors are modern and contemporary, with dark navy walls and booth-style seating. Diners are offered privacy whilst dining with sheer curtains covering each seating area, and, as every good restaurant should have, there is a neon sign near the entrance stating ‘You were my cup of tea but I drink sake now’, so you can tag til your heart’s content and let your followers know you are a cool and cultured Sushi lover. The kitchen is open plan, meaning diners can marvel at the chefs working their magic.
First up are the avocado rolls and beef tataki. The avocado rolls are delicate and full of flavour, and are certainly perfect for those new to the sushi scene. The beef is perfectly cooked – tender and aromatic, served alongside garlic chips and truffle aioli that only further complement the flavours of the meat.
Next, we are served the beef fillet, chilli pepper squid, pork gyoza and truffle fries. Everything is delicious and you can tell only the freshest of ingredients were used. The squid is served with coriander and yuzu, resulting in a uniquely tangy taste. Strangely, the truffle aioli served alongside the truffle fries has a distinctive aftertaste of green tea that is light and refreshing.
The past year has been full of trials and tribulations for the hospitality industry. As I sit at Robata on a Monday evening, the environment around me is bustling, more so than the neighbouring restaurants. This is a true testament to the service, drinks, food and all around ambience that Robata has to offer – from the freshest ingredients, plentiful menu options, and friendly and efficient service, Robata is a must visit destination for food lovers, and I will definitely be back for more.
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