Secret, Secret

Below, an homage to girls. Above, a tribute to grills.

The new Mr. Robata in the Theater District is an odd creature, located above the FlashDancers strip club on a tourist-choked stretch of Broadway. Then, there is the name, an allusion to the epic Styx song, "Mr. Roboto."

Nevertheless, Mr. Robata's chef, Masaki Nakayama, cooks like a man unruffled by his peculiar situation.

The serene room is anchored by the grates of Nakayama's robata, the grill sequestered behind a wall of glass. There, he and his crew cook a rotating selection of 20-some items ($5 to $24) from the menu's special robata section, each seasoned according to its needs.

Recently, Chilean sea bass was marinated in saikyo (sweet yellow) miso and mirin, eryngi mushrooms were swathed in clarified butter, and asparagus was dusted simply with salt and pepper. Strict guidelines; sublime results.

Nakayama's way with the robata is rooted in classicism, but many of his dishes pair unlikely combinations. He and Corton chef Paul Liebrandt have swapped cooking tips over the years, and now Nakayama grills octopus ($14) and serves it with salsa and shiso-macadamia-nut pesto, while he slicks lamb chops ($34) with a red-wine-red-miso reduction. We were beyond suspicious until we tried both, and our misgivings collapsed.

On our way out, we accidentally smacked a smoking FlashDancer patron with the front door. We still regret not telling him to pop into Mr. Robata after his favorite performer finished her turn on the pole.

Mr. Robata, 1674 Broadway (at 52nd St.); 212-757-1030 or mrrobata.com