These days, you can’t walk two feet on Henderson Avenue without running into a trendy restaurant or watering hole. But 10 years ago, Tei Tei Robata Bar was the place to be east of Knox. Chef and owner Teiichi Sakurai has since departed (he opened Tei An in One Arts Plaza in 2008, and chef Katsutoshi Sakamoto has taken his place), but a decade later, the restaurant is still a hot spot. On a recent Saturday night, a seat at the sushi bar opened up quickly, and soon we were nodding to the sweatband-clad chefs and wrapping our hands around cedar boxes of Haru Shika-Nara sake. Beef on a rock was a must-order. We placed the thin, red slices of meat on the sizzling black stone, waited until both sides were browned, and burned our tongues getting the tender, rich meat into our mouths pronto. We shimmied robata-grilled scallop and shiitake mushrooms off their skewer and gobbled up the tender scallop, but the mushrooms were overspiced. A plate of gorgeous soft-shell crab rolls and eel sushi was crammed into an empty spot in front of us, and we nearly bumped chopsticks grabbing the last soft-and-crunchy bite. Sea bass infused with miso was so delicate it could barely be picked up. We finished with another round of sake in the bar and wished that all restaurants aged so gracefully.
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