The lime green sign calls. MSG150 heeds. Ichiban it is.
Mt. Fuji on sign. It mocks the Fuji near by. We mock both the same.
We find Ichiban. We are welcomed in to sit. Our hot tea arrives.
Menus are green too. "No sushi" explains the sign. We eat no sushi.
Luncher: EmmettLunch: Nanbanyaki (Spicy Beef Teriyaki) - $9.25
This place has got the Tai Tung vibe going for it. The interior decor seems to be out of the 70s with little update. The sign outside appears to be similarly as old. The inside reeks of a deep-fryer, which is slightly unappetizing. But we're tough, we've been through the gauntlet already. Bring it.
I went with the Nanbanyaki, or Spicy Beef Teriyaki. The beef was sliced thin like steak-umms and was bursting with saucy flavor. The intensity was pretty high, and it came with quite a bit of meat. The appetizer was a small bowl of bean sprouts with toasted sesame, which was delicious. Not sure what it was called (the menu indicated that all lunch entrees come with 'Ohitashi', but my research indicated that this was a spinach dish). The Miso was adequate. Oh and again I got a slice of orange with my meal, which makes me feel like a kid again.
It was a decent meal, and a good amount of food. The price was high for lunch though, and the fryer smell was a bit overwhelming. I may be back.
Luncher: AdamLunch: Yaki Udon - $8.95
Almost done with Japantown; only a couple of restaurants left. The first thing you'll notice when you walk into Ichiban is the smell of something unpleasant. Right now, I can't remember what it was but it didn't make me happy.
The second thing you'll notice is that the food is more expensive that you would expect. For lunch, I expect to pay $6.99 or less (if you've read Predictably Irrational, you'll notice this is my "anchor" for lunch food). Also, this place is kind of dingy and dirty (and doesn't smell good), so I might expect some inexpensive food (because they're not "blowing" their profits on decor). The server is nice and was obviously the owner of the joint.
The food was decent, but unremarkable.
Luncher: GearyLunch: Katsu-Don - $7.95
Even with two "Yes We're Open" signs, it's not completely clear that Ichiban is open until you peek in the door. The interior is a bit cramped and the kitchen is hidden by a wall made to look like the side of an old Japanese building in 1970. When we arrived there was a bit of a dirty fryer smell in the air. Yum. We were greeted warmly and given big cups and hot green tea. I ordered the Katsu-Don to compare against my lunch at Fuji. After our order was in we were served a bowl of miso and a small plate of cold bean sprouts with sesame oil and toasted sesames. The miso was good and had little crunchy bits of something that added a nice extra texture. The sprouts were great. They were crisp with a toasty flavor. I tried to save some to eat with my meal but failed.
My Katsu-Don arrived steaming and I dove in. It was substantially saucier than the Fuji version. That's a big plus for me. The pork was crispy, tender, and flavorful. The sauce had just the right mix of sweet, salt, and tang. I've had them all now and Ichiban is the best Katsu-Don in the ID. I'll be back.
Luncher: KenLunch: Chicken Teriyaki - $8.95
The atmosphere was very dark in Ichiban, but the food was quite good. I remember feeling like I was eating in someone’s paneled daylight basement. The food came out in its own time, each dish as it was completed. I had the teriyaki chicken which was tasty and delicious. I don’t think I left a grain of rice on my plate. So, all in all I would say a 2 on the atmosphere scale and a 4 on the food scale, leaving me with a 3 overall.
Luncher: JaredLunch: Katsu-Don - $7.95
Ichiban is number one
They are sorry.
Specials. No sushi fish.
Sprouts and Miso
Nanbanyaki (Spicy Beef Teriyaki)