RBTA has quietly opened in Highland Park with the backing of the guys behind other crowd-pleasing Asian concepts around L.A.: Allen Wong of Fat Dragon and David Tewasart of Sticky Rice. The chef, Justin Baey, cut his teeth at the first CPK in Singapore, and has since worked for Tewasart at Sticky Rice, Monkey Bar and Side Chick. He must have impressed the restaurateur, who is becoming prolific.
This concept draws from Baey's Southeast Asian heritage, the classic robata joints of Japan and the delicious jumble that is Los Angeles food. For instance, there's avocado toast on the menu. It comes schmeared with a crab mayo. The chicken liver pâté? Served with yuzu and chilies.
The space has design pedigree, too: They got legendary bar visionary Ricki Kline to create a restaurant reminiscent of crowded Tokyo alleys filled with food vendors — just with much prettier tiles on the wall.
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The centerpiece of the menu is the skewers selection: steak, seafood, chicken and mushrooms, with prices starting at $2.50 and going up to "if you have to ask..." for that spot prawn. (It's market price.) But you can also just nosh on some noodles and potato salad.
5229½ N Figueroa St., Highland Park; (323) 259-6474.