炉端焼き (ろばたやき) originated in Sendai at a restaurant called 炉ばた, which literally means “by the hearth.” Wikipedia makes it sound like chefs from the restaurant gradually dispersed to various locations all over Japan – Osaka, Hokkaido, Aomori, Fukushima – and spread the unique cooking style: customers seated around a hearth where chefs grill fish and veggies. The cooking style took the name of the restaurant, and now it can be found everywhere.
I stumbled into Musashi in Shimbashi completely by accident the first time I went. The robatayaki across the street was full, and when I did a quick 360 to see what the other options were, the red lanterns at Musashi must have drawn me through the doors to the counter seats around the grill. To be honest, before Musashi I had never been to a true robatayaki. Musashi doesn’t have an irori style hearth, but there are counter seats around a grill, and the grillmaster (seated seiza style the whole time!) does serve up food on a giant しゃもじ. The food is cheap (many items are only 290 yen!) and incredibly tasty. Here’s a video review:
Good Eats – Musashi from Daniel Morales on Vimeo.
A few other items I would highly recommend:
Nattō-bukuro – Fermented soybeans wrapped in tofu bags. The bag definitely cuts down on the ねばねば factor.
Tsukune – The tsukune at Musashi is nice and plump and dotted with sesame seeds. Very hearty.
Nasu – Japanese eggplant with bonito flakes and grated ginger. Add a little soy sauce on top.
Hotate – The scallops are great, as are all the other shells they serve.
Kujira – They serve whale meat in several different ways, raw and grilled being the two that I can remember. A friend I brought insisted that we try something crazy, and whale it was. Surprisingly tasty.
Basically everything they make is good. I guarantee that you will not be disappointed. Here’s a map in case the video wasn’t clear enough (it looks like they actually have a second location further from the station, cool):