I love Tei Tei Robata Bar for its secret, discreet entrance off Henderson and for the masters, each at his station. The robata grill’s coals glow, and the air above is wispy with heat. Every visit should include something from that grill. What I would get every time: the crunchy smelt, crispy outside, still fatty and meaty inside. (Eat it tip to tail.) Or the sea bass in its foil packet—the sauce is so intoxicating with buttery, umami richness, you cast about for things to sop it up. Maybe the remains of a confoundingly plain grilled yuzu rice bowl that I wouldn’t order again. If they have it, get the smooth, luxurious slab of monkfish liver with ponzu gelée. Shiso leaf is the mysterious, peppery intercessor between its richness and the light flavors of cucumber and kelp. Flying fish sashimi arrives with one fin splayed decoratively, like a mohawk. Grilled artichokes dusted with togarashi spice are so popular they’re served almost year-round, but can be tough and fibrous vehicles for the crowd-pleasing wasabi ranch. (This is Henderson Avenue, after all.) But then there will be tender, young bamboo shoots that make their brief appearance in spring, served in a light miso broth, their strange, vegetal flavor stirringly elemental.

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