Living walking distance from all the restaurants on Sawtelle or "Little Osaka" is definitely a plus, but at the same time I've become so dependent on the convenience that I feel like I have tunnel vision. Sawtelle has become the "back up plan" for awhile. Nonetheless, I found myself dining at Robata-Ya for dinner on a typical Friday evening. Typical being I was exhausted from the week, so instead of cooking I wanted to eat out but not drive anywhere far: ingredients for Sawtelle dining.
I always want sake over beer, so naturally I got the bottle of cold sake and J ordered the beer. Originally he had asked for Asahi Black, his favorite beer at the moment, but it is such a rarity that restaurants carry this beer. It was worth a shot. The waitress suggested the Ginga Kogen Beer instead. She didn't know if it was dark beer and didn't really know how it tasted, but J ordered it anyway. The beer was really light and quite delicious - very easy to drink. J said it was good, but the man originally wanted dark beer so I know it's something he wouldn't order again. The sake was cool and refreshing. I'm developing this bad habit of drinking before the food comes. Drinking on an empty stomach not only speeds up the "buzz," but speeds up the red coloration in my face. By the time the food came out, I was bright red and giggly. Teehee.
One of J's favorite snack foods, we almost always get edamame to start if we see it on the menu. These were your standard soybeans, nicely salted and warm.
The dynamite was a bit watery, but still had a lot of flavor. It didn't seem spicy at first, but the lingering heat will sneak up on you. I tend to shy away from dynamites because the seafood is almost always over cooked and usually masked by the heavy dose of mayonnaise. But, in this case, the seafood was tender and enjoyable. J really liked this dish.
I love mushrooms, but this didn't work for me. It was under seasoned and quite oily.
A lot of people are turned off by liver due to taste and texture, but I happen to really like it, especially when it's robatayaki. The wasabi gives it the perfect kick to balance out the dominating flavor of the liver - delicious!
Next up was one of J's favorite dishes: chicken skin. The skin was really crispy and perfectly seasoned. It goes great with beer.
bacon wrapped asparagus
Always a popular dish, the bacon wrapped asparagus was next and did not disappoint. It was solid. The bacon was salty and the asparagus had a nice bite to it. I hate overcooked, mushy asparagus.
The short rib was a bit chewy for me, but still had good flavor. I prefer my beef to be more on the rare side, however it was nicely seasoned and enjoyable.
As regular readers know, beef tongue is one of my absolute favorites. So, I have to say I was thoroughly disappointed to find that this time around, the tongue was too tough and chewy. Overcooked tongue is automatic demotion for me. Boo hoo.
Another favorite of J's, the cartilage was definitely chewy and crunchy. Definitely not one of my favorites. However, it was seasoned perfectly and J really loved it.
chicken special heart
The texture of the heart was lovely. It was soft and tender. While the flavor was milder than the liver, the heart had a significant taste which was delicious.
tsukune (chicken meatball)
The last dish to come out was the chicken meatball, basically ground chicken on a stick. It was a bit too salty for me, but still good. I had a good buzz going by this point, so I really couldn't complain.
I think Robata-Ya serves up good food, but I think some of their items are over-priced. The service is always great here, but the food is inconsistent. My last meal at Robata-Ya was just average and my most recent visit was good, not great. Since I love Sawtelle, I'll probably be back sooner rather than later. I just hope my next meal will be ridiculously fabulous!
2004 Sawtelle BlvdLos Angeles, CA 90025