Firing up London food enthusiasm with its charred smokiness and grilling methods is the robata grill; robata being a new buzz word on the food scene it seems. And, whilst unpredictable smatterings of rain are leading to our summer BBQ dreams to be quashed, the robata grill has taken the reigns on grilled food, with restaurants inclusive of Mắm, Bala Baya, Meraki and more putting the robata on our radars.
Short for robatayaki (meaning “fireside grilling”), the robata is a Japanese creation that uses wood or charcoal to create a smoking hot, glowing burn that produces sensational flavours and here’s where to find them…
Meraki, in Greek, describes what happens when you leave a piece of yourself (your soul, creativity, or love) in your work. It’s also the name of a Fitzrovia-based contemporary Greek restaurant and whilst you might leave your soul behind whilst there, one thing that you won’t be leaving is hungry! The charming spot opened not so long ago by the hands of the people behind Japanese robata masters Roka and Zuma. Subsequently, it’s only to be expected that there’s a roaring robata on hand to caramelise the show-stopping dishes on offer.
On the charcoal robata you can expect lip-smacking dishes like souvlaki skewers and keftedes as well as a big ol’ leg of lamb (1.2kg) serving three people. It’s getting hot in here!
It’s all in the name at this snazzy Soho spot. ROBATA, new to Soho, seeks to pop Asian flair on par with 21st century creativity using its robata charcoal cooking methods, championing sharing plates and their famed robata skewers. At the helm? Head Chef Charles Lee, whose influence has seeped across various Michelin starred restaurants. A peek at the menu, made predominantly for sharing, allows the customers to recognise his strong command of Asian cuisines through the creativity of ingredients used.
Skewers are a must; they’re the restaurant’s signature, and use impressive cuts of meat cooked over hot charcoal!
Living up to its namesake, Sushi and Robata uses the famed fireside cooking technique to produce meat, fish and vegetables skewered and slow cooked. Their prize location in Whole Foods in the iconic Bakers Building allows them to make use of a wealth of locally sourced ingredients. Whether it’s brunch, lunch or sharing platters you’re after, the brasserie-style menu allows you to furiously feast. Skewer highlights include miso Atlantic cod, Chilean sea bass and Japanese baby lamb chops.
With a name like Coal Rooms, the use of coal is kinda a given which is why we’re raving about this Peckham-based gem. Coal Rooms, a grill restaurant and café, sits snug in an old ticket office and centres around a coal-fired robata grill. The message of sustainability seeps through the spot, noticed in hearty dishes with ingredients pinched and re-used from dish to dish. On the roaring grill, expect a gutsy menu of meat and fish including highlights of dry aged duck breasts, Mangalitsa cowboy steaks, roasted cod heads, 40 day-aged Dexter sirloin and more.
Flank by Thomas Griffiths, is the Old Spitalfields Market staple that doesn’t shy away from a flame. Offering modern, seasonal and British ingredients in a rustic setting, you can sit counter side or grab and go, whilst feasting on the highlights of prime dry-aged beef and and tongue with mushrooms and gem lettuce fired up over the hot-to-trot grill.
This quirky Tel Aviv inspired restaurant in Southwark warms the hearts of customers with vibrant dishes that showcase Chef Eran Tibi’s inspiration drawn from Israeli dishes. Stuffed with slow-cooked meats and fresh salads, the restaurant is renowned for its tantalising taste bud flavours, but perhaps more renowned for its pittas which it serves blackened from the robata. Further robata dishes include pasta and ribs dish and “bonfire vegetables”.
Swap English BBQ with Vietnamese and take a trip to Mắm where BBQ skewers are cooked to order on their custom-made robata grill. The skewers predominantly feature cuts of chicken but take your chances during the week and you might just come across rare-breed beef and seafood offerings. Mắm, located in Notting Hill, is owned by Colin Tu who has received huge acclaim for his two Salvation in Noodles restaurants – it’s yummy and we highly recommend!
Located on the first floor of Japan House London, you’ll find Akira. Named after Chef SHIMIZU Akira, the restaurant serves up divine seasonal ingredients, cooked over roasting robata. Highlights on the menu include; Wagyu steak, known for its fierce flavour, buttery tenderness and well-marbled texture; and saikyo miso marinated silver cod.
We recently reviewed a restaurant that is has robata all over it – no literally, it’s called ROBATA! Read all about it here