Robatayaki (Japanese grill over charcoal) (炉端焼き)
Robatayaki refers to the style of premises and serving at restaurants, which originated in Sendai City, Miyagi Prefecture and developed in Kushiro City, Hokkaido, as well as the dishes served there.
Seafood and vegetables are grilled over charcoal fire by the side of irori fireplace (open hearth) in front of customers, and then dishes are placed on long shamoji (long spoon or spatula) and carried to the customers. It is said that around 1970's, there were over 10,000 restaurants of this style across the country.
It is said to have originated that the local vegetables were grilled over irori fireplace and served to customers at a restaurant named 'Robata' in the nightlife district called 'Kokubu-cho Town,' in Sendai City.
Later, the best apprentice at 'Robata' opened a restaurant in Osaka Prefecture, and the second best apprentice at Sakaemachi, Kushiro City, Hokkaido, and three other apprentices opened robatayaki restaurants in Aomori Prefecture, Fukushima Prefecture, etc. in Tohoku region (The restaurant in Osaka is already closed.)
The apprentice in Kushiro City opened his restaurant named 'Robata,' same as the restaurant in Sendai City, and started to serve also grilled seafood, which were caught at Kushiro Port. It is said that robatayaki restaurants expanded to various places across the country by following the menus of 'Robata' in Kushiro City.
While there are two common sayings as to the origin of robatayaki, one being Sendai and the other being Kushiro, the above-described stories are commonly recognized by both restaurants.
A karaage (fried food coated with flour or potato starch) restaurant called 'Torimatsu,' from which karaage zangi (fried food coated with flour or potato starch, unique in Hokkaido) originated, is located several doors from 'Robata' in Kushiro City.