The first thing you'll notice once you step inside Shin-Sen-Gumi Robata and Yakitori (and after noticing the sign outside that says "We Don't Serve Noodles," a nod to their insanely busy sister restaurant next door) is the charred scent of meat and caramelized tare sauce. Salivate, it’s okay. It's primal. It's in your DNA. Yeah, even you vegetarians out there, you can't deny it. Just submit.
Shin-Sen-Gumi Robata is the type of BBQ joint where the chef spends just as much time on his coals as he does with each piece of meat, every bit salted with precision and glazed to perfection. Sit back, you are in the hands of grill masters.
Grab a seat at the bar and start with some chicken yakitori. The wings, meatballs, thighs and skin are all a must. If you are feeling a bit daring, order some offal of heart, liver or gizzard. Their pork and beef selections are also worthy, especially the beef tongue. Just promise you will get the tomatoes. If you’re feeling a bit fancy, perhaps some Chateaubriand or Kobe style beef cuts will satisfy you. Oh yeah, they have vegetables too.
Add whichever condiment you desire from the tray in front of you, whether it be Sriracha, yuzu kosho (citrus pepper paste, my personal favorite), sansho pepper, shichimi pepper, soy sauce or rice wine vinegar.
Now, don’t just stare at the bowl of complimentary vinegared cabbage they give you like most novices. Munch on it between skewers and watch the grill master and his crew work, fanning the flames, taking orders, serving and removing a barrage of mini dishes all while dipping, flipping and managing everything on the lone grill that sits as the restaurant's centerpiece. Feeling a bit generous? Order the chef some beer and drink together.
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In addition to the yakitori, Shin-Sen-Gumi Robata and Yakitori offers an extensive menu of cooked and raw dishes as well as dinner specials served tapas style. If you come on Mondays and Tuesdays from 6 p.m.-8:30 p.m., you can score nearly half the regular yakitori menu at a significant discount with a plethora of $1.50 skewers (normally $2 to $2.75). On Wednesdays and Thursdays, the premium skewers are all 30% off with pitchers of beer available for $10. Kanpai!
Shin-Sen-Gumi Robata and Yakitori, 18315 Brookhurst St., Ste., 1, Fountain Valley, (714) 962-8952. Open everyday from 6 p.m. - 11:15 p.m. Dinner for two $25-$50, food only. Beer, wine, sake!