When I moved to Tallahassee I lived on Bellevue Way in a pink house. If I was hungry, and did not feel like visiting Club Pub, I would hit one of the many restaurants in the area. Since graduating in 2005 my trips to this part of town have been limited. However, a volunteer opportunity brought me back to my old stomping grounds, and I was eager to try Mr. Roboto.
Mr. Roboto has received a considerable amount of buzz and is billed as Tallahassee’s number one “cheap eats” restaurant. I was curious to see if it lived up to the hype, and pulled into the parking lot of the Pensacola Street location. A large sign with a cartoon robot sat on the street. Behind it was a large red wooden deck with several tables strewn about. A couple of students sat drinking beers as I walked into the low slung white building that was dotted with neon beer signs.
Mr. Roboto’s is divided into two areas. On the left are a few small tables, a chalk board menu, cash registers and the food preparation area. To the right is a larger dining area, a sauce station and the rest rooms. I looked over the menu and the first thing that struck me were the prices. Classic rolls were $4.95 and hibachi came in at a wallet-friendly $7.95. I was starving and decided to order a TNT roll and some chicken hibachi. The grand total with a drink came in a shade over $13.00. Not too shabby.
I took a seat at a small table and watched the Mr. Roboto crew assemble my dinner. The interior utilized corrogated metal and was peppered with funky art work. A large mural depicted a robot terrorizing a cityscape while a large Japanese rising sun flag occupies another. It definetly had a college vibe, which I enjoyed. While checking out the interior I grabbed some utensils and a few sauces including a cup of their vaunted yum-yum sauce.
Before long I was presented with two oval black plastic plates. On one sat a butterflyed chicken breast that had been pounded, seasoned, grilled and sliced into thin pieces. It sat atop a bed of sauteed vegetables and fried rice. The chicken was a bit bland but well cooked. The vegetables were fresh, and the rice was what was expected at a hibachi joint. I had huge hopes for the yum-yum sauce, but was disappointed, as it lacked any sort of punch. The hibachi chicken meal was okay and would serve as a filling dinner for a cash strapped college student.
Underwhelmed by the hibachi I moved onto the TNT roll. It consisted of shrimp tempura and avocado surrounded by rice and doused with srichacha. It was very nicely arranged on the plate and showered with chopped scallions. The shrimp tempura was perfectly cooked and had a nice crunch. The creaminess of the avocado played well with the spiciness of the srichacha. It was a delicious bargain. If I had to do it over again, I would stick with Mr. Roboto’s sushi and skip the hibachi. While I am not sure it lives up to the title of “Best Cheap Eats” in Tallahassee, it is worth checking out if you are on Pensacola Street and have a craving for some fast Japanese food.
Sweet Tea & Bourbon’s Rating:
Note: Whenever I see the name of this restaurant I think of the Styx song from 1983, Mr. Roboto. You can check out the video of this classic here.