Monday, July 17, 2006

Robata Grill and Sushi. Today was 'Dad's Day' in that we worked on making sure all his doctor's appointments were caught up and he had all the supplies needed while I'm off to Japan for my extended visit. I thought he would enjoy lunch at the Japanese restaurant close to my Mill Valley home, Robata Grill and Sushi. I have not reviewed Robata before, mostly because it's so uneven, I haven't been sure what to say about it. Perhaps simply, it's uneven!

The daily lunch box at Robata is highly recommendable. It has a nice variety of delectable items, and changes daily to include fresh creations.

The concept of Robata originated with Japanese fisherman who cooked small bites over the fire, and in the spirit of sharing, passed tastes oar-to-oar among the ships in the harbor. If you sit at the Robata bar, you will be passed your food on an oar in the old tradition. Kids really love this!

I've been to Robata many times, and particularly enjoy their 'hella' roll, made with asparagus and tempura bits. I also enjoy ordering off their special Japanese menu (you have to ask for it), for authentic delights such as chawanmushi, and a steamed chicken and vegetable pot.

Their yakisoba is pretty consistently too dripping with sauce, otherwise it would be a nice mix. Every time I've ordered scallops, they are exceedingly DRY and tough. They also 'paint' on the room temperature teriyaki sauce, and it often cools down the whole dish.. not my favorite way. Many of their rolls suffer from the US Japanese restaurant syndrome -- upsizing. Sushi in Japan is usually made in very manageable bite-sized pieces, with the mark of an excellent sushi restaurant being besides freshness, the proportion of filling/topping to rice favoring the filling/topping by an obvious amount. This is often in reverse in the US. To Robata's credit, they don't over do the rice/filling ratio, however the sizes are generally, just too big overall.

This too bigness was emphasized to me again with my father's struggle as an 86 year old with dentures in being able to enjoy the sushi and other offerings in his bento box. He had a difficult time being able to eat the huge rolls without them falling apart, and the broccoli spears really needed a knife to eat properly as they were too crispy to bite off in pieces easily, and way too big to put all in your mouth at once.

This being said, I do enjoy eating at this neigborhood Japanese restaurant, and just pick and choose my dishes carefully from experience.

In the evenings, they also have a great selection of specials, with freshly made examples with labels spread out as you pass through the door to the lobby. These are usually really tasty. They do a good job with light and inventive desserts too.

Back in Sonoma in the evening, we went to Mary's Pizza Shack for dinner and caught a movie at the Rialto - Peaceful Warrior. It has a limited showing and is based on the Dan Millman book, "The Way of the Peaceful Warrior", which I enjoyed reading years ago. Dad and I both enjoyed the movie. Mary's was good, but it has grown too corporate since I started going there. They no longer serve fresh lasagne, but microwave frozen, and 50% of the time it's come partly frozen, so I no longer order it. The clam linguine I had last night was acceptable, and Dad enjoyed his special "Sonoma Wrap", which contained chicken, avacado, bacon, and spring mix rolled in a tomato tortilla. We also ordered Mary's Pizza sticks, which used to be included in the meals, and they tasted as good as I remembered.

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