We went along to sample this mesmerising Japanese izakaya-style concept in its opening few days and were bowled over by the passion and knowledge of restaurant manager Freddie.
After being given a refreshing passionfruit and Saki cocktail we were presented with opulent wooden clad menus, surely fit for the Emperor himself? Yet this is no cliquey establishment, on the contrary, for a brand new restaurant Rofuto had a surprisingly mellow vibe.
An expansive central core gives you front row seats for the theatrical tricks at the 7 metre long yakitori counter, whilst the stunning views across Birmingham can be seen 360 degrees from Rofuto’s dining lounge.
The Rofuto food story is equally charming, fusing sushi, tempura and yakitori with a hint of difference, by that the creators of the restaurant have got something masterfully right. Freddie helped transform us from Birmingham to Kyoto, celebrating the secrets of Japanese cuisine and letting us in on the twists and touches which bring the food to life.
My partner is vegetarian, so her tempura vegetables were the perfect starter. Delicate and succulent parcels, packed full of wonderful flavour, but not at all oily like you often find.
To mix things up, the izakaya-style beckons you to try a variety of plates, and go beyond the traditional English starter, main, desert. I tucked into an inspired grilled Octopus, bursting with character, helped out by the tenderising process. We shared some sushi – vegetarian futomaki and their house special – the Rofuto futomaki which tempted me to go for one of their platters next time I visit.
Whilst the menu was very diverse, due to our naive Western palette, we have still got lots to learn about Japanese dishes, so I felt as though there were lots of dishes on the menu which could be explained in more detail. Photographs of food are only naff if the menu is uninspired, but in Rofuto, I just wanted to try everything, and definitely think photographs of the interesting variety of dishes would help. No doubt, if they could introduce some visual clues to what some of the dishes might be, this could help new comers to the cuisine.
The decor was uplifting with ambient lighting. The interior space had a wonderful Japanese theme, yet the style was a tapestry of contemporary and high end traditional finishes.
For our central dish we opted for an outstanding Halibut champagne yuzo miso with pak choi. It had a rich and hearty sauce which uplifted the halibut and the pak choi melted in the mouth. Their soy sauce was first-class.
Around the table we added a dish of cherry smoked salmon which appeared more like a grilled piece of fish, cooked on charcoal with a delicious smoky sweetness. This was followed by the legendary Kimchi. Freddie took us on the journey of pickled, sour and heavenly kimchi and it was inspirational. It was great to see someone so passionate about their food.
For dessert we sampled a tremendous green tea tiramisu and a taster of lemon tart.
To finish the meal we had a shot of desert saki, packed with subtle flavours and excellent to cleanse the palette.
Our verdict – 5 stars – we cannot wait to go back!
To book a table visit www.rofuto.co.uk