Feb 20 2014



It was our first night in Japan and I wanted to have something unusual for dinner and my Frommers guide book recommended I go to Inakaya for some Robatayaki style of cooking. I had never heard of Robatayaki style before and the guide book promised great over the top show, so I was sold. Robatayaki means seafood, vegetables and meat are cooked over an open charcoal grill. In the old days, a robata, an open fireplace, was located in the middle of old Japanese houses and was the center of activity for cooking, socializing, eating and keeping warm. Today’s robatayaki restaurants are like nostalgic trips to the past and staff are quite often dressed in traditional outfits and the places are decorated with old elements (just like Inakaya was).
There are three Inakaya restaurants in Tokyo, two of them located by Roppongi hills and my guide book recommended to go to the one slightly north of Roppongi hills as that had an English menu and also was easier to find (initially we tried looking for the other Roppongi Inakaya but could not find it).
It was a Thursday evening and we did not have a reservation but we managed to get a seat at the U shaped counter (the only place where you can sit, no separate tables), but most of the restaurant was full, so to guarantee entry you should book. Inside most of the people (about 80%) were foreigners so this is one of those place where foreigners go for a Japanese show, it is touristy, but I enjoyed it. When we were seated, we noticed a lot of yelling, food orders are yelled out by the waiter and then repeated by others, which produces a lot of shouting and excitement in the restaurant. Also when the main chef (that sits on one side of the room in front of the cooking grill) passes you the order, he yells, and everyone else repeats. They also said when chefs change we need to clap and they told us a certain rhythm in which to clap. Also during our dinner there was a chance to yell and stamp some sort of Japanese food in a Japanese barrel, which some of the foreigners, including my boyfriend, did.
Apparently there is an English menu, but I never got to see it. Instead the waiter told me to point at what I wanted to eat. Inside this U shaped counter were a variety of fish and meat and vegetables, arranged nicely. You could see there a huge crab, fresh fish, prawns, meat and various vegetables. You chose what you wanted to have and then the chefs prepared it in front of you "Robatayaki" style (you could not actually see the oven though from most seats, as it was sort of below the counter). Before our meal arrived we were also presented with a small appetizer (and also at the end got a small desert), which is nice especially considering they charge YEN800/ person for the table seat. The desert and the appetizer were ok.
You can see in pictures the food we chose to be cooked Robatayaki style, vegetables such as asparagus, shitake mushrooms, bamboo shoots as well as two prawns and two skewers of beef. You literally have to say how many mushrooms, asparagus, prawns, etc you want, they cook the exact amount for you. I did like this Robotayaki style of cooking and it reminded me a bit of yakitori, which I like. I thought the flavour of all the things cooked in the Robatayaki oven was great, the prawns they gave us were good, nicely seasoned and flavoured and in general I really enjoyed the food. We were not full after the dishes we ordered though as we had received such small portions and afterwards we also ordered extra portions of small green peppers and minced chicken. Both these things were good like the other food.
Whilst we were sitting in the restaurant the waiters also gave us a book that was full of pictures of celebrities that had been to this restaurant, many of them sitting at the same exact spot where we were sitting. They had pictures of every imaginable celebrity like Tom Cruise (in a few different outfits, so he has been there a few times), also many pictures of Cameron Diaz from her visits, as well as Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher, Silvestre Stallone, Nicolas Cage, Steven Spielberg, Red Zeppelin, Rolling Stones, Gerry Bruckheimer, and many more so proper A list celebrities. Clearly this place is a celebrity hot spot in Tokyo.
The food was good, but this restaurant is expensive and a bit overpriced in my view. A lot of restaurants are expensive in Japan, but Inakaya meal cost a lot and when we left we were not feeling completely full and felt like we could still have a bowl of ramen. However the over the top atmosphere and all the shouting and the show sort of compensated for the expensive price. Also the food was nicely seasoned and cooked, delicious. I do think this place is worth a visit.
Date: 20/ 02/ 14
Price for 2 people, no alcohol: YEN 26,000 (around £153)
Location: Roppongi Hills, Tokyo, Japan

Maija rated: 



4 Chome−10-11 Roppongi, Minato
Inakaya Reviewed by Hungry Bee Maija on . Rating: 4