Table Talk

Turning Up the Heat at Robataya Grill

There's no finer place to survey the grand sweep of the Manhattan skyline than the deck at The Top of The Standard. Add in an evening cocktail and hors d'oeuvres from Chef Soa Davies's newly opened Robataya Grill, and you're that much closer to heaven.

Davies's corner of the roof might be cool and discreet, but her grill heats up to over 700 degrees. For the uninitiated, that's several hundred degrees hotter than the Weber in your back yard. Her technique originates from a centuries-old country style of cooking practiced by northern Japanese fishermen. The intense heat, fueled by Japanese white oak charcoal, seals the flavor into Davies's grill-bound selections.

"We call it Japanese, but it's tongue-in-cheek Japanese because we're introducing a lot of different influences," explains Soa, who trained at Le Bernardin and runs a food consultancy. "I love the freedom of being able to do something fun like this."

Selections range from Octopus with an Espelette Vinaigrette, to Asparagus with an Asparagus & Marcona Almond Romesco, to Eggplant with a Miso-Brown Butter Glaze, to Pork Belly with Citrus Mustard. At each turn, there's a suprise. The romesco is French-Basque; the espelette, Spanish; the tuna's salsa verde, North African; and the chicken wing's confit in duck fat, unmistakeably French.

It's a surprise that anyone would want to stray further that Chef Soa's rooftop eerie after tasting the grilled octopus.

"It's very, very tender because we blanch it several times to let the muscles contract and relax." Some vegetables come from The Standard's farm upstate. So far this season, it's just the eggplant (then marinated in miso) and the herbs for the salsa verde, but soon the tomatoes will be available.

"They just send us stuff. It shows up downstairs and then we make specials with it." The grill is open from four in the afternoon to ten at night, though sundown itself is hard to beat. Recommends Chef Soa: "Catch the sunset and the view, have a couple of skewers, a glass of rose or a cocktail, and head off to dinner."

Phone (212) 645-7600 or email to reserve a table.

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