Food News

Sushi Robata Without the Sushi

Hank Vaughn
The niku udon at Sushi Robata.
Sushi Robata is nestled in the hinterland that is farthest North Dallas in a nondescript strip mall that houses the requisite grocery store, Jack in the Box and urgent care center. It has fine sushi, rolls and sashimi, but also on the menu are a variety of tasty Japanese dishes, as well as sake and Japanese beer. It’s also a great place if you like your fish cooked and udon hot — there’s something for everyone.

We did start with a roll, because after all, it’s hard to pass up a good one. However, in keeping with the “everything must be cooked” theme of this outing, we got a bay scallop roll (cooked bay scallop, avocado, cucumber, smelt roe and mayonnaise). The roe was too much for my wife, so I helped myself to all of it dunked in a nice mix of soy sauce and fresh ginger. Nice crunch.
click to enlarge Chinese potato salad is made with cucumbers, carrots, corn and chawanmushi. - HANK VAUGHN
Chinese potato salad is made with cucumbers, carrots, corn and chawanmushi.
Hank Vaughn
My wife often looks for dishes that her mother made when she was growing up, and a couple of appetizers seemed similar to the Chinese versions she remembers fondly. One of them is potato salad, which differs from American potato salad because of the addition of cucumbers, carrots and corn.
click to enlarge Chawanmushi. - HANK VAUGHN
Hank Vaughn
Chawanmushi was another familiar dish. It's made with a savory egg custard-type thing in a small cup. The custard was beautiful to look at in an appealing little earthenware jar and was flavored with soy sauce, dashi and mirin steamed inside said jar with mushrooms at the bottom and garnished with slices of fish cake. The taste, however, was not for us: visually appealing, but just meh on the tongue.
click to enlarge Enoki mushroom wrapped in bacon - HANK VAUGHN
Enoki mushroom wrapped in bacon
Hank Vaughn
Next up was a couple of skewers of enoki mushroom wrapped in bacon. These come two to a skewer, and two skewers to an order. The slight crunchy texture of the mushroom combined with the rich meaty flavor of the bacon was perfect.
click to enlarge The gyoza here is open-ended. - HANK VAUGHN
The gyoza here is open-ended.
Hank Vaughn
Finally, to round out the appetizer selections for this evening, we also got some gyoza (potstickers filled with pork … we think), which were served on a nice bed of sliced cabbage along with some sweet dipping sauce. These were browned just enough with a lovely crust and perfectly cooked dumpling skin. They weren’t in the traditional crescent-moon shape, however, but rather more rectangular and open-ended. The receipt referred to them as “stick dumplings,” so that might be a clue.
click to enlarge Tempura udon is a mess but worth it. - HANK VAUGHN
Tempura udon is a mess but worth it.
Hank Vaughn
Then, at long last, our mains arrived. We both got an udon soup. Niku udon (photo at top) with thinly sliced beef and onions and tempura udon, which has shrimp and mixed vegetable tempura added. You can select either buckwheat or white wheat for your udon noodle, and we chose white wheat.

These bowls are pretty substantial and came steaming hot to the table. The udon noodles were cooked perfectly (how does one say al dente in Japanese?) and the beef was lean and tender. The tempura was not greasy and there was “just enough.” It’s always a challenge to eat udon with chopsticks without making large slurping sounds and getting it everywhere, but you’re giving up if you resort to a fork.

The hot and flavorful udon was the perfect meal on a cold, dreary January day. It’s too bad that we didn’t save room for dessert because the “tempura cheesecake” on the menu sounds interesting, but we’ll be back.

Sushi Robata, 4727 Frankford Road, Suite 313, 11:30 a.m. - 2 p.m., 5:30-10:30 p.m. Monday – Friday; 5:30-10:30 p.m. Saturday; 5:30-10 p.m. Sunday.