Robun has just opened on Bath’s prestigious George’s Street, offering quality Japanese cuisine for lunch, tea and dinner.
The restaurant is inspired by Kaganaki Robun’s book, Seiyō ryōritsū, published in 1872 and which introduced Western barbecue to Japan.
Their modern interpretation of “Yakiniku” specializes in sharing platters of grilled meats, seafood and vegetables fused with Asian cuisine.
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Not knowing what to expect from this brave new place, Emma Elgee and I booked a table for lunch and went with an open mind.
Robun offers a two-course lunch for £ 18.95, or a la carte options. We thought the Robun Sashimi and Nigiri Set on the a la carte menu looked so appealing for this.
There was no way to tell what was in it from the menu, which took a minimalist approach to detail.
When we asked the waitress if this would be enough for a lunch for two, she replied “probably not” and advised us to take something else as well.
This is how we ended up ordering the two pork and chicken baos for £ 13.95, in addition to the £ 45 share dish.
Considering the steep price, I expected something spectacular to come out of the kitchen doors – and I wasn’t disappointed.
Robun Sashimi and Nigiri set
Normally when I write a review I go through each ingredient of the dish in detail – but in this case I had to guess what I was eating.
The first part of our sharing set was the nigiri plate, containing salmon, tuna and what looked like albacore tuna, or maybe amberjack.
The salmon nigiri was delicious, with a nice horseradish or mustard flavored dressing to give it a kick.
The tuna was also good and came with caviar for an added touch, but tasted bland compared to the salmon.
However, when supplemented with practical ginger, it also had an interesting taste. The albacore tuna had a bit more flavor and went well with the green mustard provided.
As we were tweaking the tasty nigiri, the sashimi mainstay arrived.
At first we couldn’t even see the fish through the thick fog piling up a huge shell that apparently held our lunch.
As the mist cleared, we saw four small seashells, along with a pot of sauce, filled with sashimi.
Again, it looked like salmon, tuna, and amberjack in the bowls. These went great with the salad leaves and batter, but the taste and texture got a bit the same after a while.
Pork and Chicken Baos
After finishing our delicately scented sushi dishes, our bao rolls arrived.
We had no idea what was in it other than the meats, but it was fiery.
If you like spicy dishes you have to try them, but – since there was no mention of spices on the menu – it was a bit of a shock.
I went for the bao chicken and found the meat to be deliciously cooked with a light batter, but still succulent.
Cucumber and spring onions were also involved, but these were overpowered by the sauce.
In the end, Emma and I ended up with tears in our eyes, burning lips and empty glasses of water. Fortunately, these were filled before long.
Have you ever been to Robun? Let us know what you thought of it in the comments section below.
Robun is a quiet escape from the hustle and bustle of Bath and if you want quality over quantity this is a good place to go.
However, we spent almost £ 80 on lunch for two – including a drink each – and we haven’t ended up feeling particularly full or satisfied.
I had decent sushi and paid a lot less elsewhere and while the steaming shell was spectacular I would have appreciated more information on what I was eating.
Likewise, if you had ordered the baos as someone who doesn’t like spicy food, you would have had a nasty surprise when they arrived.
Overall I would say if you want a fancy place to go for a date or a family meal then Robun would be fine for a unique time.
However, unless you roll into it, you can probably get the same quality elsewhere for less.
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