Shibui Robata Bar is the latest addition to the growing Copacabana empire, headed up by brothers Jeremia and Michael Rudan. The cozy 80-seater occupies the basement floor of Copa's flagship Adelaide Street location.
Aside from an inventive array of sushi rolls and sashimi spreads of the highest caliber, Shibui is conceptually centred around the robata grill. Robatayaki (or robata) is a centuries-old cooking method that originated in Hokkaido, the northernmost island in Japan. Fisherman used a sunken hearth (irori) on their boats as a source for warmth and a method of slow grilling their food.
The brothers Rudan fell in love with robata grilling on various trips to New York and Miami, promptly soliciting the culinary talents of Chef Masaki Nakayama, former executive chef at Mr. Robata and Tokyo Prop in New York. Admittedly, Chef Nakayama may be even more masterful with a sushi knife than on the grill. Everything I sampled last night was top notch, from the fresh seabream sashimi to the succulent lamp chops with spicy Korean miso glaze.