Restaurant Review: Takumi Robatayaki at IFC (炉匠)

Hi!!! Happy May Day!!! Here in China it’s labor day so everyone got the day off. I know it’s strange to post in the middle of the week, but, since  we decided to take a food adventure, why not share. After all, who said good food was reserved for weekends. The adventure was pretty epic, so let’s eat!

Takumi Robatayaki

Everyone probably knows by now that I pretty much dream of grilled fish 24/7. Well Takumi Robatayaki answered all my dreams. Robatayaki is basically an upscale Japanese version of campfire cooking.

The items are skewered and slowly cooked in front of a mass of hot coals. This cooks the meat (fish) at a high heat, creating a perfectly crispy skin, but avoids direct heat, which really helps ensure a moist, juicy interior.

Trust me, my mouth was watering just looking at the pictures. Well, enough said. Onto the FOOD!!!

Food

Grilled Sausage Plate- Of course, my dad needs his meat, so we ordered this sausage. I was skeptical, but the skepticism was unfounded. The sausage itself was smooth and well flavored. The grill gave the dish the perfect touch of smoke. However, the coolest part was definitely the bone. I’m not sure if it added to the taste, but it’s definitely new. Plus, I’m game for any excuse to eat with my hands

Herb Spiced Saury- This dish uses rosemary, thyme and a touch of olive oil to put a slightly western spin on a Japanese classic. The restaurant offered robatayaki saury, but my dad preferred this version. It was good, but nothing special. The fish was fresh, well cooked and I could definitely taste the herbs. However, the herbs and oil took away from the natural flavor of the fish.

Grilled Live Eel- I’m not a fan of the sweet teriyaki sauce that most Japanese restaurants drown their eel in. But, for some reason, I was really craving eel, so I ordered this dish anyways. Best. Decision. Ever. When it arrived, I immediately noticed the relative lack of sauce and a beautiful char. The appearance completely underestimated the taste. The eel was incredibly fresh and rich with the perfect touch of smoky char. The sauce actually added a very welcome hit of sweetness that enhanced the natural umami

Grilled Chinese yam with Seaweed Salt- Chinese yam is one of my favorite veggies of all time. It has a delightful, fresh crunch that provides the perfect break from the heavy meats. I’d never had it with seaweed, but I was excited to try. I’m sure glad I did. The seaweed brought an incredible burst of umami. The real highlight, however, was the touch of a sweet, tangy vinegar drizzle.

Tiger Prawn- While waiting for a table, I noticed tanks filled with MASSIVE tiger prawns. Needless to say, when I saw “grilled tiger prawn” on the menu, I HAD to order one. 20 minutes later, it arrived and was BIGGER than I expected. How did it taste? Well, to be honest, a bit underwhelming. The prawn itself was sweet and fresh, but a bit overcooked. The worst part was that the salt crust caused the juices in the head to leak out, really taking away from the flavor potential.

.. and finally

Robatayaki Rockfish- More than 40 minutes after ordering, the main event finally arrived. Just looking at it, I knew it would be good. The skin practically crackled. The meat glistened and practically dripped with juice. The taste far exceeded the looks. The fish could not have been fresher and the robatayaki cooking perfectly preserved the natural sweet umami. My only complaint is that the seasoning didn’t really penetrate the skin, leaving the meat a bit bland. However, the AMAZING yuzu salt made everything better

Note: The sushi and sashimi are also very highly recommended, but we wanted to try the grilled items first

Service and Atmosphere

 

The  atmosphere was top notch. The chic, simple decour gives the restaurant a casual yet chic atmosphere. I really wanted to sit by the robatayaki, but those seats were occupied. We got a seat on the second floor next to an AMAZING balcony that literally overlooked Shanghai. It’s the perfect place for a date or upscale co-worker meeting, but can’t really accommodate larger parties or children.

While the atmosphere was great, I can’t say the same for the service. The wait staff were courteous and attentive, but there was a general lack of coordination. This really slowed things down and took away from the otherwise amazing dining experience. With that said, the food arrived quite quickly considering we ordered pretty much all grilled items

Overall Impression

Overall, Takumi Robatayaki was definitely one of the best Japanese places in Shanghai. I will definitely be going back ASAP.

That’s it for today. I hope every one has a great week! Bye!

 

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