Review: The Robatayaki food festival at Joss enthralls food lovers with modern surprises.

If there is that one meal we remember vividly amongst the many we have relished ( Oh, and we have had many), it has to be the one made on a campsite with friends on a campfire. No silverware, no highball glasses, and no fancy pots… a few hot charcoals, a mini barbecue, marinated fish, chicken and seasonal vegetables and we had the party going. So when Joss, Farrokh Khambatta’s signature restaurant invited us to the Robatayaki food festival, we were thrilled. After all Robatayaki, often shortened to just Robata, refers to a method of Japanese style of cooking similar to barbecue in which items of food on skewers are slow-grilled over hot smoking charcoal.

What comes to your mind when you think of Japanese cuisine? Sushi, sashimi, ramen and tempura…. right? Robatayaki that originates from centuries old Japanese style of fireside cooking around a communal hearth that serves both as a cooking area and a source of heat, is often ignored.

We posed for a picture at the entrance (now we love taking pictures, don't we?) and settled down with the cocktail of the evening- Enigma. 

Perfect pose for a perfect evening.

Enigma- Cocktail of the evening.
Made with Australian dark grape, rambutan and delicate flavours of cinnamon it was an interesting cocktail but on the sweeter side. When you chose to dine and drink the Robatayaki way… is not just dining, it’s a performance. And soon enough the drama started. Started with the Smoking Cosmopolitan. Served in a glass pipe, the pink cocktail bubbles in the bowl of the pipe as you sip through its pipe and blow some smoke. Excellent performance by both the cocktails in a supporting role, we say.

The Smoking Cosmopolitan, drama in the pipe. 

Now over to the main act. The food. What did we try? Almost everything on the menu (we ran an extra mile the next day). We started with the Cookie Jar Yakitori Chicken-beautifully presented and smoked to perfection juicy chicken skewers spiced with the Schimicci pepper mix. They set the stage for more delicate flavours yet to come up on the stage.

Cookie Jar Yakitori Chicken- juicy slow grilled chicken skewers.

Next came the Turkey Bacon wrapped Prawn Maki with Toban Jan Glaze. With juicy prawns and fresh turkey bacon, this is definitely a must have. 

The Cracked Shiso Seed Pork Belly, our recommendation from the festival is slow cooked for almost 36 hours. The mildly sweet shiso seed glaze enhances the taste and the super soft texture makes you ask for seconds. 

Cracked Shiso Seed Pork Belly- our recommendation from the Robatayaki Festival

We also loved the Robata Grill Asparagus and Shiitake Mushrooms with Spicy Yuzu Miso and F2T Vegetables with Miso Chili Parmesan. 

F2T Vegetables with Miso Chili Parmesan

The only dish that we didn't like was the Set Tofu in Sesame Red Bean Paste- though the tofu was soft; the flavors of red bean paste were very sharp.

Set Tofu in Sesame Red Bean Paste

We ended the meal with Korean Dolsot Bibimbap- a signature Korean dish that literally means "mixed rice". Served in a stone pot, it had delectable flavors of seasonal vegetables, sprouts, steamed rice, soy sauce topped with a raw egg. Mix it together and relish the goodness.

The dessert of the evening was Chocolate and Walnut Crème Brule. The custard had the right consistency with a beautiful walnut flavours toned down with mild sweetness of chocolate.  

The slow grilled specialties at the Robatayaki festival are delicious and served with dramatic presentation. The special Robatayaki menu is inspired by traditions and made with modern techniques that add a nice twist. If you always wanted to enjoy a quintessential Japanese dining experience albeit with drama, head to Joss. You might not be sipping sake from a narrow-necked clay flask as you relish fresh produce or the day’s catch from the fisherman’s oars but you will definitely be enjoying an upmarket version of cooking around the campfire!

Robatayaki Food Fest at his signature restaurants Umame at Churchgate and Joss at Santacruz.

Savoy Chambers,
Linking road extension,
Santacruz west,
Mumbai- 400054

Call: 022 266177772

Till When:
On till 31st March 2015.