>Translating literally to “fireside cooking,” robatayaki is a traditional style of coal grilling that originated in Hokkaido, the northernmost prefecture of Japan. It is a rustic style of cooking, where food is grilled over an irori, a sunken hearth that once featured in many Japanese houses. Due to the harsh winters of the Hokkaido region, robatayaki was both a way of cooking and of keeping warm. Robatayaki - or simply “robata” - restaurants these days typically feature a large irori hearth or grill around which chefs cook.
Standard robatayaki grilling fare includes skewered meat, vegetables, and seafood, all cooked at high temperatures over 1000 F (about 540 C), which helps preserve the natural flavors and juices of the food. Grilled food is then scooped up and delivered to customers on a long wooden paddle. The theatrical element of robatayaki, combined with the homey presentation and wide selection of custom-order ingredients make it a popular evening dining option in Japan.
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