Friday, July 18, 2008

Robataya Inakaya @ Orchard Parade Hotel

One food reviewer mentioned that Robataya Inakaya is one of the hippest Japanese restaurants to hit our local dining scene - I am not sure if it is truly one of the hippest, but I assure you that it is definitely one of the most unique.

It is quite an experience dining here, as there is very personalised service - there are no tables, only counter seats and the chef will serve you directly. It is very lively and noisy, and they tend to sing and clap even as they grill your food. At around 8 pm, the chefs will all perform this clapping singing cheer, and all guests are encouraged to clap along.

I am told that this restaurant is affiliated with Akashi, and with the original Robataya Inakaya in Tokyo.

But well, one thing about this place, that really irks me, is that there were no prices stated. The menu was a basic one for drinks and other cooked things like fried rice (SGD11) or cha soba (SGD10). But for the grilled items, they were all displayed in front of us, without any prices. When I asked the waitress, she said all these were Japanese ingredients, and that the prices changed everyday so she cannot tell me for sure how much the food costs, but she can give a rough estimate, and that the kinki fish was about SGD60. Err. Even if the prices changed every day, how hard is it to write a new price on a piece of paper and stick it on the wall?

DH jokingly said, well, if you have to ask the price, it means you can't afford to eat here lah... So never mind just order whatever we want...

So we sat down, and decided to just order what we liked, without thinking too much about the cost.
Our chef was young and energetic. See the large wooden paddles behind him? they are used to serve us our food and drinks. He would balance the food on the paddle and then lean across the grill and offer us our food.

He seems pleased that we are taking his photo.
All the produce and ingredients are airflown from Japan. Everything. Meats, vegetables, fish.

We ordered a grilled kinki fish and here it is. The chef is seasoning it lightly with salt. It takes a long time to grill I think. It only arrived at the end of our meal.

Complimentary starter? Err, no it costs SGD6. I can't remember what was in the glass. But the thing on the leaf is marinated eggplant.

We ordered some japanese mushrooms, which were grilled in this aluminium foil packet.
SGD12 for this. They are not enoki mushrooms, they are another kind, and tasted rather woody to me.

These are live baby crabs (SGD12) ... they were crawling in this glass bowl on the counter, so we had to try some.
They are slightly salty and very crispy. They go very well with beer.
One chomp, and half's gone.
This is the grilled chicken skewer (SGD6). Quite tender and nice.

Grilled scallop (SGD24) with mirin and butter I think. It was quite large. DH and I shared this one.
This is the beef skewer. It was very tender and very very marbled. We could see the beautiful marbling even before it was grilled. Well, we liked it so much we ordered a 2nd portion (without knowing how much it cost). Guess how much each skewer cost? Guess! SGD40!!! We almost fell out of our chair when the bill came. What on earth was omi gyu, that cost a whopping SGD160 for 4 skewers? It wasn't even a very large skewer of beef was it? A wagyu set dinner, with appetiser, sides and dessert, would not have cost SGD160....

Turns out that omi gyu is one of the top 3 types of beef in Japan, up there with Kobe beef. These omi cows are also fed beer and massaged daily and also listen to classical music. Err, ok.

But I do think this was a ripoff.

The tontoro pork (SGD24). The waitress said it was pork belly, but it wasn't. it was clearly pork cheek, as we could tell from the chewy texture... The bill we received later, confirmed that it was pork cheek. I liked this very much.

Our grilled kinki fish SGD75, was oily and juicy and had a fresh sea taste.

Complimentary dessert? No, it costs SGD6.

Why would they serve us stuff which we didn't order and charge us for it? In the end, we paid SGD24 for stuff we didn't order.

The total bill, inclusive of 2 Asahi beers and 1 cha soba came up to an exorbitant amount. I shudder to think of the sum we spent, but I think I shouldn't write it down, since my mom sometimes comes to this blog and she would be appalled to find out how much we spent on food here.

I think it's not worth it at all, because I could have had premium sashimi meal for 2 at that price. Grilled stuff isn't hard to do, it's just salt on a hot grill. I also think that the restaurant's practice of not giving customers the price before they order is plain unethical. Especially when the food aint cheap. I mentioned this place to my Japanese friends, who also think this place is a rip off.

We got home and realised that Cutie was waiting up for us... He is such a darling.

1 comment:

marksfoodstuff said...

thanks for reviewing this. i strolled in there one day and was told i needed to make a reservation so i took their namecard and have been planning to go back ever since.

however, based on your review, i might be giving this one a miss afterall. you saved me a disappointment!