I, Robata

Why we're loving Momotaro

When the Boka Restaurant Group (Boka, Balena, Girl & the Goat, GT Fish & Oyster) announced that it was planning to open a Japanese restaurant, it was met with a resounding mix of excitement, skepticism and general curiosity.

Skeptics can lay all doubts to rest: Ambitious Momotaro in Fulton Market not only delivers a remarkably authentic Japanese experience but looks good while doing it.

The interior at Momotaro | Photo: Huge Galdones

The swanky tri-level space has a second-floor private dining room and a 130-seat main dining area outfitted with a sushi bar and a basement-level izakaya lounge. Sleek wood paneling and clean lines throughout nod to a strong 1960s Japanese influence.

The menu is robust, if a bit daunting, so ask your server to help you navigate through the numerous sections that range from "snacks" and "from the coals" to "autumn" and "makimono." Virtually everything is designed to share, so order a bunch of dishes and let the kitchen  course them out as it sees fit.

The meatless Momotaro Tartare ($9) speaks to an evident undercurrent of culinary modernity; the disc-shaped creation mimics classic tartare in form but diverges thanks to unforeseen ingredients such as Japanese sweet tomato, Maui onion, shiso and elegant floral garnishes.

Robata grilled items—such as Negima ($8) with shishito-marinated chicken thigh and Gyutan with Iowa Wagyu beef tongue ($10)—are skewered and uncomplicated in presentation, yet bursting with complex flavor. Sushi offerings are some of the freshest we've tried, while maintaining an air of unadulterated simplicity often lacking in Americanized preparations.

As for the sake? There are options for every palate—and there's plenty of Japanese whiskey to go around as well.