The interiors at this izakaya-style joint are a marriage of Japanese minimalism and trend tick-boxing, featuring royal blue bench seating, stonecast ceramic plates and hanging plants which dangle above the tiny open kitchen/chef’s counter, which has just five seats.
Found on Soho’s bustling Old Compton Street and just a short walk from Leicester Square and Piccadilly Circus tube stations, Robata is an easily accessible space, while there are a few stools by the window should you want to engage in a spot of people watching while you eat your dinner.
Robata’s menu majors in casual Japanese staples such as skewers, bao buns and sushi. On our visit, we found the dishes varied from brilliant to only average. The best thing we ate was a large plate of miso aubergine – boasting a fondue-like texture, the aubergine’s fleshy innards were sliced into wobbly cubes bursting with umami flavour. We also loved our fried chicken bao: crispy-skinned chicken in a plump bun, propped up by kimchi, pickled daikon and a sweet and spicy glaze.
Less impressive was a lifeless and slightly dry duck salad, while an apple-tinged wasabi didn’t add much to our skewered scallops. For dessert, we like the look of the deconstructed Oreo cheesecake served with matcha ice cream, but if you are after something slightly less indulgent, tuck into a portion of three mochi balls, with flavours to choose from including coconut, raspberry, yuzu and green tea.
Of course, there is always the option to enjoy liquid afters instead, by choosing a sip from Robata’s impressive drinks offering. On the list, you will find a concise selection of botanical Japanese-inspired cocktails, wines and saké. Prefer to save your alcohol intake for the weekend? Stop by for Robata’s bottomless brunch, when you can enjoy free-flowing Prosecco alongside dishes such as beef fillet and miso aubergine.
There’s a pre-theatre menu and tasting menu with optional saké pairing available too, while friendly staff and a good-value set lunch menu are further reasons to visit.