You’re probably here because someone told you that Shigeru Sato, the Japanese designer of Gonpachi restaurant in Roppongi that inspired the famous Kill Bill restaurant fight scene location, has designed Robata Zawazawa. The funny thing is when you enter the two-floored restaurant adorned with a collage of Japanese traditional fans tucked in a corner, you’ll hardly see the resemblance between the designs of the two restaurants, in fact, dare we say it, the resemblance is close to none. And when we asked the servers for reassurance, they didn’t have a clue who designed their restaurant. But having said that, what Robata Zawazawa does have to offer is intimacy: the total capacity sits no more then 20 diners; with bar tables downstairs and Japanese-style seating along the kitchen counter upstairs – you’re sure to get close and cosy with your date, as well as the chef.
Head chef Daisuke Nakano hails from Japan, but he’s lived in Macau long enough that he is familiar with how this part of Asia likes their Japanese food. The selection on the menu is limited, so like us, you’ll probably end up ordering the entire menu. A nice beginning to the night is the selection of complimentary appetisers: select from chicken, seaweed, egg plant and beef. The seared foie gras with daikon radish (HK$60) is interesting, featuring radish layered with foie gras engulfed by a sea of dashi fish stock. If you're a massive fan of dashi, you'd love this dish but otherwise, we would stay away as the flavour and the texture of the foie gras is completely taken away by the stock. The cabbage salad tossed in sesame dressing is served with a poached hot spring egg (HK$55) and has a great refreshing crunch to start the meal. As the name suggests, the real deal at this restaurant is the robatayaki from their speciality flame grill, and we'd recommend ordering the wasabi eel in soy sauce (HK$35), swordfish served in sansyo spice and the daily wagyu (HK$60) to test the heat. But if you want something that will truly impress, try the Syu-Ichi beef skewer either served with wasabi soy sauce or yuzu pepper paste (HK$120), both embellished with just enough flavour from its marinade to give an extra boost to its fantastic melt-in-mouth texture. “We want to give our diners a genuine Japanese experience with kaiseiki-styled dishes” explains the manager, this concept is best seen in the fried beancurd with natto beans (HK$30) perhaps not everyone’s cup of tea but innovative nonetheless. To throw some carbs into the mixture, an order of their tanuki udon (HK$50) is a must, the hand-made noodles are flown in from Japan and boasts a bounce in texture. After a meal heavy on the grill, end the evening with the houji-cha pudding, served with a drop of honey and rice pops, it’s a great example of the restaurant's kaiseki concept, and a delicious way to end your meal.
Like the food menu, the wine selection is minimal with less then five wines on offer. It’s probably best to order shoju or sake instead but we have to say for a Japanese restaurant, even the sake selection is limited.
As the entire restaurant sits less then 20 and we counted about five servers and three staff in the kitchen (including the chef), with that kind of server to diner ratio, you’re definitely getting an unbeatable level of service. While the servers aren’t fully informed (granted we visited them three weeks into their opening), they are keen to make conversation and attend to your needs.
We'd categorise this as experience-dining, for HK$1000 for two without alcohol, this is fair price to pay for a fun meal out in Lan Kwai Fong.