San Telmo team fire up Japanese grill restaurant, Robata, in former Gazi space

Assorted yakitori and kushikyaki at Robata.
Assorted yakitori and kushikyaki at Robata. Photo: Jake Roden

The San Telmo crew are taking their love of fire-fuelled cooking in a fresh direction with Robata, which has opened in Melbourne's CBD. As the name suggests, chef Stephen Clark and his team are switching Argentina for Japan, celebrating the art of cooking over binchotan charcoal.

Yakitori including chicken thigh, tsukune and chicken heart will hit the grill, along with wagyu short-rib, Skull Island prawn and sake-brushed shiitake mushrooms. The rest of the menu is a mix of raw seafood from Yosuke Furukawa, Robata's sous chef who was most recently at Nobu, and gutsier dishes like pork tonkotsu and Rangers Valley skirt steak marinated in shio koji.

Clark, who has been at San Telmo for the past eight-and-a-half years, is excited to step behind the robata and cook some of his favourite Japanese dishes.

Chef Stephen Clark comes from an eight year stint at San Telmo to take over the Japanese grill at Robata.
Chef Stephen Clark comes from an eight year stint at San Telmo to take over the Japanese grill at Robata.  Photo: Supplied

"The grill has always been my greatest inspiration, and it's still front and centre even in this new chapter of my career."

Robata takes over the site that once housed George Calombaris's Gazi. The minimalist and futuristic space holds 120 diners, seated under an arrangement of light boxes that nod to Tokyo's neon-lit streetscapes.

A pretty matcha and black sesame parfait is one half of the current dessert menu, while the other involves sparkling sake poured over sorbet table-side, a chic update on the spider. Sake features heavily on the drinks list, along with a full contingent of Japanese whiskeys, real-deal Asahi on tap and Victorian wines.

Open from 5pm Wednesday, and from noon Thursday-Sunday.

2 Exhibition Street, Melbourne, 03 9989 3575, robata.com.au