I wasn't quite sure what to expect, and I was somewhat apprehensive given that a) the restaurant was deserted, b) we were in the most touristy/expat area of town, and c) there was no menu or price list to be found. We entered into what looked like quite a traditional and spartan dining room, the walls were adorned with small banners and other Japanese artefacts like fans, and decorative wooden paddles that are used to serve the food. We were greeted by raucous cries of "irasshaimase" from the chefs and waiters. I never know how I'm supposed to reply so we all just smile and nod and generally stand around looking like clueless gaijin.
We were ushered to one of the two u-shaped tables that seat about 10-12 people each. Each table surrounds a charcoal grill attended to by a chef kneeling on an elevated bench. In front of the chef was a mouth-watering array of fresh produce such as asparagus, mushrooms, Kobe beef, prawns, mushrooms, and fish. I gather that robatayaki is supposed to recreate the atmosphere of a traditional farmhouse with guests seated around the open hearth.
The waiter would then loudly shout out each order to the chef which was then repeated by the rest of the wait staff in case the chef, for reasons I can't fathom, hadn't heard it the first time. The chef then repeated the order back at similar volume and the process was repeated for every dish and drink. It was an fantastically fun and energetic atmosphere in which to eat, not a place for a quiet night.
|Kobe beef skewer|
|Grating fresh wasabi|
|Chef serving out food|
I later found out that Inakaya is a chain of restaurants with 3 restaurants in Tokyo and one in New York City, but it doesn't feel like that at all. The one we went to in Roppongi felt small and intimate and all the staff were super efficient and friendly. The atmosphere is quite raucous but its a lot of fun so this is definitely a place to go in large groups and not for a first date. Yes, this Inakaya is in a 'touristy' area and yes it's a touch overpriced, but with the freshness and quality of the produce and the enthusiastic service, who can complain?
Food: 8 / 10
Service: 9 / 10
Ambiance: 9 / 10
|5-3-4 Roppongi Minato-ku|