WHAT: Robata En
IT’S: A new restaurant in Chinatown with a heavy Japanese emphasis.
OPENED: Oct. 29, 2020
WHO’S BEHIND IT: Owners Joon and Jemma Yi and Executive Chef Ramir DeCastro
FUN FACT: Customers can take home a seven-course omakase box with an appetizer, soup, salad, sashimi, sushi, one cold dish, one hot dish, rice and dessert, which is $99 for two people.
LOCATION: 4480 Spring Mountain Road
HOURS: 5-11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 5-10 p.m. Sundays and Tuesdays through Thursdays. Closed Mondays.
WEBSITE: A new Asian kitchen in Chinatown.
Why We Love This Spot
Robata En is a great addition to the thriving Spring Mountain dining scene sandwiched between Sparrow + Wolf and Lamaii in a plaza with ample easy parking (a rarity in Chinatown).
It’s a comfortable, modern space that covers a wide variety of Japanese-inspired dishes by Chef Ramir DeCastro, formerly of Yonaka and Purple Potato. The chef is clearly flexing his creative muscles with every single item—including sauces, dressings, pasta and even cookies—made from scratch.
Five Things You Have to Try
Begin a meal with the shoyu deviled eggs. You’ll love the bite of subtle horseradish against the creaminess of the whipped yolk. Drag one through the herbs on your plate for extra flavor.
The clams and mussels are complemented by the savory bite of glazed pork belly chunks and house-made brown bread. The dish doesn’t drown in its own sauce, leaving every bite with a clean, perfectly balanced taste and texture.
The sake orenji combines Scottish salmon with the bright burst of fresh orange slices, yuzu and Thai chili. It’s quickly becoming the restaurant’s signature dish.
The robata skewers and sushi/sashimi changes by the day based on the availability of seafood and meats. Leave your meal in Chef DeCastro’s hands with the daily omakase selection or an 8- to 10-course tasting menu.
Save room for milk & cookies. The dessert of fresh, hot cookies arrives with peanut-infused milk and a sweet ube (purple yam) jam.
Great! What About the Drinks?
Robata En has a nice selection of beer, wine, sake and a surprisingly strong whiskey list with flights available. Don’t sleep on the cocktails, especially En (an Asian spin on a Penicillin with Japanese Whisky and Ginger Marmalade) and Smoke & Fire (where the smoky flavor of Mezcal mixes with Spicy Shishito and Sweet Mango with a Charred Lime on top).
A Little More About the Atmosphere
Robata En is an expertly designed dining room with textured ceilings and dramatic overhead light fixtures that give off a soft glow for a stylish look and romantic vibe. A sushi bar sits in a brightly lit corner where the drinks are also prepared.
Cold plates $17 to $29, warm plates $19 to $59, sushi $5 to $45 (for sashimi omakase), beer $6 to $12, sake $6 to $555, wine glasses $9 to $15, wine bottles $13 to $95, whiskey $8 to $50, cocktails $12 to $14 (with discounts available during the daily Happy Hour from 5-6:30 p.m.).
The contemporary dining room is engaging, but it’s the food of Ramir DeCastro that will keep you coming back. Ideally, a meal is divided between cold and warm plates (with a frozen yuzu mini-popsicle brought out as a palette cleanser in between). There’s enough variety on the menu to have a dramatically different but equally rewarding experience with every return visit.