Robata Zawazawa – Hidden Japanese gem in LKF

By on October 28, 2012

Overlooking Lan Kwai Fong

Zawazawa means ‘noisy’. For a restaurant perched up in Wyndham Street in Central, Robata Zawazawa is actually not that noisy, at lunch time at least.

Made to look like a warlords house in the Edo period in Japan. The restaurants hangs above the LKF revellers like an ancient bamboo fort.The interiors remind me of something straight out of a Japanese samurai movie. It didn’t come as a surprise when I was told that the interiors are actually designed by Shigeru Sato, who’s work inspired the Quentin Tarantino’s movie, KIll Bill. By this time I was half expecting Uma Thurman to leap out from behind the counter and start slaying all the businessmen enjoying their meal in the restaurant.

Hong Kong has been the furthest I have every been in the eastern direction.Until when I was 22, my knowledge of Japanese culture was mostly from anime, Karate Kid part 1 and Kill Bill movies. It was only when I came to Hong Kong and started travelling around the world for work, that I learned more about their culture and food and the importance of their culture in their food. Over the years I have found that there are many ‘bad’ Japanese restaurants and there are few ways you can distinguish quite accurately between an authentic Japanese restaurant and a shoddy Japanese wannabe. For example the chef should ideally be Japanese and the menu must mention teriyaki as least as possible. Check and check.

Good Japanese restaurants in Hong Kong do not only serve as just another place to eat a foreign cuisine (like other world cuisine restaurants in Hong Kong), but they also serve as a window into the Japanese culture. Robato Zawazawa is definitely one of those restaurants. The moment you step into the restaurant you are very aware of the Japanese motifs around you.

The lunch set is wholesome in taste and has some good variety. Served first is a bento box of assorted appetizers.

The appetizers served were as below:

Tamagoyaki (egg omlette), YAMAIMO yam, HASU-IMO lotus roots, Braised lotus roots, Stewed seaweed and Salmon. All the dishes were a master class in the technicality that goes into Japanese food. The Tamagoyaki had just the right fluff and was not overly sweet as other places tend to make do. If you have not had the YAMAIMO yam ever, there is a big chance that you might want to skip it as it is a little slimey, but for the initiated, the dish is a delight. Salmon was rich and topped with spring onions. The restaurant keeps changing its appetizers to keep the regular guests interested. With more hits than misses, the appetizers are perfectly selected to whet up a massive appetite fit for a Sumo wrestler.

Next up is the daily Seafood special: The Miso Grilled Cod Fish.

Miso Cod at the Robata Zawazawa

I could watch the cod being grilled in the kitchen in front of me and as I waited, my expectations increased (as it always happens). It was served with a grilled slice of lotus root, miso soup, uruchimai (japanese rice) and the most delightful salad made of finely shredded cabbage with simple oil and vinegar dressing. The cod met with my expectations. It was soft and fluffy with a rich, smoked taste. The rice was very well cooked. There is no gravy for rice in the set, so if you are one of those people who like their rice with some sort of gravy, you might still want to try the rice on its own.

The lunch set includes a dessert and I opted for the green tea ice cream with a slice of Nashi pear (Japanese pear). The pear really compliments the ice cream by adding a slight acidic tone to the ice cream. A mini win there.

The food is authentic Robata -yaki Japanese fare. There is no sushi served here but there is plenty of Sake. The lunch set is extensive and has options for the vegetarians as well. The chef Daisuke Nakano combines dishes of small servings which perfectly balance eachother in taste and texture.

Chef Daisuke Nakano in his zone.

Its a perfect place to have a quiet lunch within the hustle and bustle of Central. Ideal for a sneaky lunch date or for a business lunch. The service is excellent, the staff is not overly chatty and give you your space.You will find the chef calmly working in his station, with extreme focus. Japanese chefs don’t tend to talk much to the guests and its true in the case of Robata Zawazawa as well. Only looking up to give me a genuine smile and a head bow.

Lunch set menu changes often.

Robata Zawazawa –  LG, 41 Wyndham Street, Central, Hong Kong  | Tel: 2536 9898  | Web:
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Rahul Prakash

An adventurous eater and is always looking for new music. After living in Hong Kong for the last seven years, he has found a true home in Hong Kong. Working full time for a leading fashion firm, he spends weekends reading non-fiction and writing.

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