Bath’s latest restaurant opening proves there’s more to Japanese cuisine than sushi and katsu, says Kathryn Lewis
What’s the draw?
Tracking down genuinely great sushi is tricky in London, let alone in the South West, so when a new Japanese restaurant pops up in central Bath, it’s worth hopping on the first train to Bath Spa to check it out.
Yet there’s so much more to Robun than maki and sashimi. Sure, sushi groupies will find spot-on examples of the culinary art at this George Street restaurant, but to visit without exploring the menu beyond its raw-fish staples would be an insult to head chef Jon Claro’s creativity.
Jon relocated from London to Bath to launch Robun in July 2020, and brings with him a wealth of experience from celebrated pan- Asian restaurants The Ivy Asia, Sticks’n’Sushi and Pen Yen at Soho Farmhouse.
Inspired by chef and author Kanagaki Robun, who introduced western barbecue to Japan in the 19th century, Jon blends culinary tradition with contemporary creativity to craft exciting dishes loaded with surprises.
What to order?
Take a friend with a similar all-or-nothing approach to sharing-style dining and order as many colourful plates as you can cram on the table.
We ticked off a dish from nearly every section of the sprawling line-up (it’s pretty hefty), chasing salmon kaburimaki rolls with chopsticks loaded with veggie tempura and wagyu beef tataki.
Of all the delicious morsels – and there were many – the winning dish was the finely diced bluefin tuna tartare dressed with umami-rich truffle oil, dainty radish slices and tiny jet-black pearls of fish roe. Jon’s take on Korean fried chicken (crunchy balls of juicy chicken dunked in a sweet-and-spicy dipping sauce) and miso-licked barbecue aubergine took silver and bronze respectively.
An honourable munchion must go to the mochi balls. The bite-size spheres filled with various flavours of ice cream – mango was particularly palate cleansing – with a blueberry dipping sauce were the perfect sweet finish when you’ve really no room.
Take the train so you can work your way through the clever cocktail list. The talented bar team have knocked up a bespoke line-up which includes the likes of smoked mezcal Negronis and a sake-infused Tom Collins.
Greedy weekend in Bath? Read our staycation guide here.