Iroriya is one of those restaurants that would get written about much more if it is in SF, Oakland or Berkeley. It has been around for a few years, got a total of one thread dedicated to it and 3 other mentions, which is, absurdly infrequent for what it adds to the dining scene in the Bay Area. Iroriya specializes in robata cooking, and within this category, himono. And they do their grilling very well. Robata is a Japanese way of grilling over charcoal, often seafood and vegetables, and at Iroriya, over slow and lower temperature non-burning oak binchotan imported from Kishu, Japan that doesn’t impart off-flavors like other charcoals.
Himono is sun-dried charcoal grilled fish, with the drying intensifying the seafood flavors and sometimes provides a contrasting flavor and texture between the outer layers and inner layers of the same piece of seafood if its partially dried.
A meal this week, all robata items:
Hobo (方々魚 / red gurnard/ sea robin). Seasonal/ off-menu himono item. Flaky smooth inside, dried, a little chewy and savory outside. A delightful combination of fresh and dry.
Tako leg (octopus leg). Cross between octopus-jerky if there ever is such a thing and grilled octopus. Marinated in shoyu? Sweet and intense seafood taste with a chewy texture.
Mochi Isobeyaki. Quite enjoyed the char/ grill flavor on this rice cake.
Nagaimo (長芋/ mountain yam/ 山藥). The yam had a unique, mineral-y taste when grilled. Quite delicious.
Hamaguri (はまぐり / hard clam) Came in 3. Sweet, bright, and salty at the same time.
Jyaga butter. Elevated version of Wendy’s baked potato. Delicious, skin and all.
Isaki (イサキ/ gruntfish). This one was a ‘regular’ fish, not a himono.
Aka Ebi (red shrimp)
Yaki onigiri/ grilled rice ball
Part of the robata menu:
The binchotan at work behind the counter.
Still incognito. Right next to Orenchi in a random strip mall in Santa Clara.