Our family outing to Robata in midtown Memphis let me know that I could survive just fine if I were, for some reason, stranded in Japan. A weird fact about me is that as a kid I used to wonder if I could survive in a particular country based on whether or not I would starve to death because I didn’t like the food they had there. My mama and daddy use to tell me, “If you get hungry enough, you’ll eat.” Maybe so, but I might be a stick figure before that happens. If the Asian restaurants I’ve gone to (Mongolian, Chinese, and Japanese) truly represent the flavors of the continent, then I think I’ll be good to go. The best thing about the Ramen at Robata, they let you know what city/region each recipe is from, so I already have a heads up.
Robata is a ramen and yakitori bar that seems to do both well. I suppose it’s considered a “bar” because the ramen dishes are customizable and the yakitori is sold per piece, so it’s easy to mix and match to come up with the perfect meal. Here’s what we came up with this week…
- Appetizer: Shrimp Honey Mayo
- The King: Seafood Yakiudon (stir-fry noodles)
- Crown Prince: Asahikawa (ramen)
- Little Prince:
- Me: Hakodate (ramen)
Shrimp Honey Mayo: King(4.5/5) Me (4/5)
I’m going to admit that when I first saw this being served to us, I made the decision to not eat it. This is probably because it didn’t look like
In this case, I’m glad I tried it. Although it still isn’t my favorite in terms of texture, it was still good. It wasn’t too bready, and the shrimp was pretty tender. The mildly sweet honey paired with the mild and creamy vibes from the Kewpie mayo sauce complemented the dish perfectly.
Seafood Yakiudon: King(4/5) Me (4/5)
If you dare to be open-minded, you’ll be in for a treat…just choose the Yakisoba noodles instead of the Yakiudon noodles. This was a good
Let me take a minute to set your mind at ease about squid: don’t knock it till you’ve tried it. I’m pretty sure, it’s not for everyone, but let me describe it as best I can to take some of the fear away. Hopefully, I can inspire someone to step out and try something new. So hear goes.
Squidward squid is more about texture than it is about taste. For me, the taste mostly comes from the cooking method (batter, sauce, etc.), kind of like tilapia. Its own flavor is mild, but present. Squid is very chewy, but if done well, it isn’t rubbery. If you are a person who likes the edges on brownies, baked or fried chicken, ribs, etc., then you will probably enjoy well-cooked squid. (Next time you’re at Olive Garden, expand your horizons and try some calamari.)
Anyway, the dish was really good by itself, and the Japanese mayo sauce, took it over the top adding a zing to an already good blend of flavors. The only problem with it was the noodle choice, and that was the fault of the King, not the kitchen. In my opinion, the Yakiudon noodles were too thick for the dish. I feel that thick noodles like that should be reserved for thinner sauces. Still, with that minor adjustment, I think it’s a pretty safe dish for someone wanting to try Robata for the first time.
The ramen dishes are customizable. First you choose the style. Each style represents a Japanese city or region’s method of preparation. Next you choose your noodle style and then any extra toppings and/or sides you desire.
Asahikawa (top right in photo): King(3/5) Me (3.5/5)
Here are the ingredients: Shoyu and miso seasoned pork broth, including chasu braised pork belly, shrimp, fishcake, marinated boiled egg, green onion, red ginger, kikurage mushrooms, bamboo shoots, and bean sprouts.
Sounds very interesting. I’m honestly surprised the Crown Prince chose this, but it was good. It just had a beer-like flavor to it that I had not expected. This might have something to do with the wheat component of the shoyu. When I first tasted it, I thought of the pork flavored ramen noodles I ate as a kid. All of the above ingredients just worked to add to the complexity of the already flavorful broth. It wasn’t my favorite of the bunch, but it was still pretty good.
Champon (bottom right): King(4/5) Me(4.5/5)
Ingredients: Ground pork bone broth including shrimp, squid, scallops, cabbage, carrots, and onion.
This was so good. In my opinion, the most important part of the ramen dishes is the broth. If the broth flavor is on point, and this was, as long as everything else is cooked properly, the dish is going to be pretty good.
By the time I got to taste this, the Little Prince had eaten most of the meat out of it, save a few scallops. Still, the full flavor of the broth (imagine the flavor of a perfectly seasoned pork chop) combined with the tender cabbage and carrots were a treat for my taste buds. We actually ended up trading because although he likes veggies, this was a little veggie-heavy for him. His loss. I had, coincidentally, cooked cabbage the day before, so when I ate the leftovers the next day, I added some of my own cabbage to the broth, and it was mm-mm-good.
Hakodate (bottom left): King(4/5) Me(4/5)
Ingredients: Sea Salt seasoned chicken broth, Tsukune chicken, meatball, corn, marinated boiled egg, green onions, bamboo shoots, and bean sprouts.
There’s not much to say here, but this was another good one, except it was a little salty to me. It tasted A LOT like the chicken flavored ramen noodles from my childhood, only the noodles are much better. If you’ve never tasted ramen noodles, this one kinda tasted like a really flavorful chicken noodle soup. I almost hated to trade with the Little Prince, but hey, it’s what mothers do.
Overall: King(4/5) Me (4/5)
This was definitely a good experience, and we could all see ourselves going back. The Crown Prince said that he could see himself taking his friends there. That’s pretty cool saying as though he and the King are kinda hard to impress. I think he was digging the neo-soul-like re-mixes they were playing on the radio.
The dining area is kind of small, but it’s cozy with a urban chic kind of vibe. The portions are generous and for the amount of food you get, the prices are pretty reasonable. If you’re wanting to try something new and are in the mood for some Asian cuisine, don’t hesitate to give Robata a try. Who knows? Maybe I’ll see you there!
Been here, done this? How did you like it? Let us