It was a 90 degree day in November when I walked by cool inviting Robata-Ya and saw they had a lunch special Bento Box which included filet mignon, a tuna roll, tempura, and potstickers for only $12. It was too tempting to pass up, so I went in and was pleased to see it was nearly full of patrons even at 2 pm.
Service was very efficient and friendly with two waiters literally at my service refilling water, bringing me my soup and salad, and asking if everything was good during my meal. The miso soup and salad (also included in the Bento Box meal) were both much better than most, with seaweed and tofu chunks in the rich miso broth. The salad dressing was slightly spicy and (fortunately) not sweet, offering a perfectly crisp medley of radishes, carrots, and cabbage atop iceberg lettuce.
The Bento Box special was wonderfully presented and surprisingly generous with both portion size and quality of ingredients. The tempura included a shiso pepper as well as shrimp. The sushi was nicely done with a light hand on the rice and served with home made ginger. The lightly packed potstickers in delicate wrapping were placed in a ponzu sauce with scallions that was delicious (much better than Rock Sugar's heavy handed version), and the filet mignon was grilled to medium rare, sprinkled with sesame seeds and scallions, and very tender.
The only thing I would change in this nearly perfect meal would be enlivening the skewers which had good meaty flavor but could have used some spice or salt. For the price, the serving of meat alone would have cost $12 in a supermarket, so this deal is a steal considering all the skill, quantity, quality and presentation that went into the lunch.
The waiter mentioned that they also have a Happy Hour with $1 skewers and pitchers of beer for half price between 4-6pm, so whether you go early or later, just go to Robata-Ya on Sawtelle. You may need a Robot to wheel you out after your meal, but you will leave with a smiling stomach and wallet.
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