Scratch Your Itch for Asian – Ichiban

Ice Cream Balls

Susan says…

We chose Ichiban as the spot for a nice double date with our friends, Monica and Sterling (Monica posts a guest review below).  Located on Capitol Street adjacent to Bar 101, the restaurant has ornate, high ceilings and a beautiful bar.  The furnishings are nice but the tables are crowded very close to each other.  I felt like I was dining with ten people instead of the three I intended to eat with.  Even so, we didn’t have a problem hearing the conversation among us…maybe we are simply loud and we were infringing upon others’ dialogue.  Oh well, worked for us.

An extensive list of a la carte, maki and sushi dinners were available from the two sushi chefs working behind the bar on the upper level.  From that listing, I ordered the Jayden Maki – rolled sushi of tuna, cilantro, cucumber, spicy oil, smelt roe and chili pepper – 6 pieces for $10.50. 

The sushi tasted good, however I did not get “spicy” from it.  Either they forgot to include the spicy oil I was promised or their definition of spicy is a whole lot different from mine.

I would have liked more spice, but I also would have liked a smaller price tag.  I get 6 pieces of spicy tuna roll at Taste of Asia for less than $7.  Another disappointment was that my new favorite sushi – the spicy scallop roll – is not available at Ichiban. 

Jayden Maki

Ron rubs some wasabi on top of his sushi piece, places a slice of pickled ginger on top of that (which Monica and I tell him is not meant to be eaten with the sushi, rather as a palate cleanser between types of sushi) and picks his creation up with his fingers.  I refer to this as “hilljacking of the sushi”.  Sterling told Ron to never mind the women’s critiquing of his style…because Sterling “thinks it’s pretty”.  Quote of the evening!

I was invited to taste the sushi Monica & Sterling chose for their meal.  It didn’t knock my socks off, but it tasted good and I enjoyed being able to try a few different things – like a mini sushi buffet!

The vegetable spring rolls were nicely crisped, however you only got 2 rolls cut in half for around $8. 

Vietnamese spring rolls

 

 

In honor of the soon-to-open Vietnamese restaurant, Pho Vinh Long, in South Charleston, I opted for a Vietnamese appetizer: spring rolls. This choice threw Ron for a loop.  He wasn’t expecting the cold wrapper, but that’s how they’re supposed to be.  I received two spring rolls, cut diagonally in half, for $8.  Hmmm…..$4 per spring roll.  At least they were filled to maximum density with shrimp, right?  Wrong.  There were maybe two small shrimp cut into pieces per roll.  Accompanying the shrimp to form the roll was lettuce, fine rice noodles, crushed peanuts and mint served with a spicy oyster sauce.  The sauce was indeed spicy and it really added to the rolls.  I am glad I tried them, but probably wouldn’t order the cold-style rolls in the future.  I guess I prefer the deep-fried Chinese version.

Ron chose our entrée of Asian Bourbon Pork for $22.  I tasted one bite of the thick pork chop, half an asparagus spear, and one “Asian” potato, which truly was just roasted potatoes with rosemary (I didn’t taste anything Asian about them) because I was too full from tasting Monica’s sushi.

I washed all this down with a tall Sapporo, priced at $6. 

Continuing my reputation for trying everyone else’s food, I sampled the ice cream balls our friends ordered for dessert.  The presentation was very pretty and whatever sauce they used to write the character on the plate was yummy.  The ice cream balls tasted good, even though the names wouldn’t be something you would naturally associate with a dessert course in American culture.  The dough, though, was odd.  It was gummy-feeling and I had wished it wasn’t covering the tasty ice cream – I would have enjoyed them more without the dough but that is traditional to the dish.

My overall impression of Ichiban is a nice atmosphere with average-tasting food at an above-average price.  I greatly prefer Taste of Asia, however, downtowners would have to drive to at least South Charleston to enjoy it.  My review (and my very frequent meals) are partaken at the Teays Valley location.

I rate Ichiban TWO FORKS.

 

Ron says…

09.23.08

I’m scratching Ichiban right off my list of things to do and not worry about doing them again.   This is the second time I’ve come here, once for some Sushi and drinks, and now this time, for “the works” {sushi, drinks, and dinner}

I can’t say I wouldn’t eat here again, because the sushi is good ~ albeit I can’t taste the difference between this sushi and the Taste Of Asia or Kroger’s.  That’s probably because I soak it in teryaki and paste it with Wasabi, then wash it down with a beer and ginger.   But my Sushi rating credibility is limited to the “lick it, slam it, suck it” variety of drinking Tequila.  I keep it simple as that’s the way I like it.

I had the pork chop, asian potatoes, and asparagus.  While waiting we tried a variety of appetizers inlcuding several differnet kinds of sushi, my least favorite was the spring roll… this uncooked egg roll material that reminded me of a skin graph gone bad.  It just wasn’t my bag, so don’t shoot the messenger.  However it was presented well, and because I have never tasted another spring roll like it to compare it to, I’ll give the chefs the benefit of the doubt and not say that it sucked.  It just sucked for me.  Someone else may think it’s the best thing in the world… and it very well may be.  Just not for me.

variety of sushi

The sushi was more my speed… and yes it was good, but I can’t tell you what separates this from the cheaper versions I get at Kroger’s or your run of the mill chinese buffet.   Some may say they use better ingredients… well that may very well be true, but for me it didn’t transfer into any appreciable benefit to my all important taste buds.. Therefore I would advise that if you can get by with something cheaper then do it.   But I’m no sushi chef, so what do I know.   It tasted good, but I still couldn’t pick it out of a line up with other less expensive varieties.

Now what I did like about all the Sushi was the way you order it.  YES it’s like playing KENO.  You have these little slips of paper and tiny pencils… and you order it by checking off little blocks.  The only thing missing is four or five TV screens announcing when your roll is up.

Now the all important drinks… This bar has always had good beers, either stocked, or on tap, and tonight was no different.  Unfortunately they price theirs a little higher than I feel is necessary.  But you can get good beers on tap. 

Now my main course – I was expecting some great tasting asian inspired pork chop with some fancy potatoes with some asparagus.  What I got was a well cut pork chop with some teriyaki or other similiar tasting marinade, with some potatoes, and some asparagus. 

Asian Bourbon Pork - $22

  • The Pork Chop – was the main ingredient.  It was a large thick and tender cut.  Wherever they got it from, I would advise all eating places to buy from them.  It’s the way I like it.  It reminded me of the way the Outbacks Pork Chops used to be several years ago.  However there’s where the good ends and the bad begins.  The sauce / marinade / seasoning ~ whatever was on it, I think came straight from Sam’s Club.  The Teriyaki stir fry sauce that we buy for our stir fry.  I think they just smeared that on it and called it Asian.  You can make this in your back yard for all you do-it-yourself chefs.  It’s good but not great.
  • The Asparagus – Good, I can’t complain, other than I thought I would get something that may inspire Susan to do something different when she makes asparagus as that is one of her favorite Vegetables.  (I mean we have asparagus with a side of asparagus at our crib some weeks)  But no.  I think they got this recipe out of a Rachel Ray cookbook but messed it up in that it took longer than the required 30 minutes to prepare.  (for all you people out there that are nit picking and taking our reviews literally, I would like to let you know that I do not remember how long it took for them to actually bring our meal out as I was too busy ordering items from the well.  My “30 minute” comment is a sarcastic remark concerning the item that made the aforementioned cook famous.  It may have taken longer than 30 minutes, but it shouldn’t have)
  • The potatoes ~ There was simply nothing asian about these things.  Nothing.  Zero.  Nada.  Quarter Potatoes, add spices and cook.  That’s it.

    Green Tea Ice Cream Balls

Now to be complete, our dining mates for the evening ordered some Ice Cream Balls…. I don’t know what to think of these things… The Green Tea was terrible.  The other we got wasn’t too bad… but… it just wasn’t natural.  The skin on the outside made for plenty of comedic banter, and.. well let’s just say this dessert item left a lot to be desired.  (maybe this was the only asian inspired thing)

Overall I think my meal was good, and if this was The Cracker Barrel I’d probabaly give it three forks.  However this was served to me under the guise of Asian food, so I can’t quite give it that.   Plus it was expensive for home cooking (which for all practical purposes is what it was).  So again, I can only give it Two Forks.  Like Susan.

My recommendation is just go to Bar 101 after work, order some Sushi, and sip some cold beers and watch Sportscenter, or talk to Mr. Kent Carper, as he frequents this place a lot.  (least he’s been there a few times that I’ve been there) give him a piece of your mind.  But overall, I think you can probably find a better place to spend your money.

TWO FORKS.

 

 

 

Monica says…

 

 

Ahi tuna appetizer

As a return visitor to Ichiban’s, I knew what to expect from my favorite sushi place.  After all, the name Ichiban means “the best” in Japanese.  I have been known to wait outside on the street for the doors to open promptly at 5 o’clock.  This time, I was meeting friends, so my husband and I arrived to a table already prepared for us.  I was a bit disappointed by the unusually dry personality of our waitress.  However, I knew the food would not disappoint me, so I ignored her nonchalant attitutde.  Instead, I completed my sushi bar order and requested my “usual” appetizer (seared Ahi tuna).  The waitress seemed annoyed at the length of time my friends were taking to decide what to order…so we continued with our recommendations of “everything is good here” which did not really help them make their decision.

vegetable spring rolls

The food came…and it was delicious!  The sushi was phenomenal and the wine was as dry as the personality of our server.  Since we were conducting a “review” we stepped outside of our traditional order and decided to sample dessert…that was a mistake!  I decided to try the highly recommended green tea flavored ice cream balls.  After some much needed humor (“balls” is such a funny word to adult men), our dining experience was concluded.

 The atmosphere was fun, eclectic and intimate, which is why Sterling and I are drawn to the place for an evening unwinder before our commute out of the city.

 I give it FOUR FORKS.

 

 Ichiban
103 Capitol Street
Charleston, WV 25301
304-720-7874

 Ichiban on Urbanspoon

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19 responses to “Scratch Your Itch for Asian – Ichiban

  1. i was looking for a review from y’all not 3 days ago to link to in one of my posts. synchronicity indeed. linked!

  2. Ron you should feel free to eat sushi with your fingers.

  3. That’s not what we were doggin’ Ron about. He dresses his sushi with a slice of the pickled ginger, but that is not meant to be eaten with the bite of sushi.

    Plus, it’s simply fun to harrass him.

  4. Ishiban is like most sushi chain places. . . overpriced, bland and very pretentious.
    The best sushi in Charleston and perhaps anywhere else east of Tokyo and south of NYC is from Fuji over on Jefferson Rd. in SC . . . also, Yoshi, at Fuji’s old place does it much better than Ishiban.
    Really, I’d rather go out to South Ridge and get some sushi at Hibachi than suffer through another Ishiban experience. . . especially with the drunks from the bar next door wandering in and out like dazed morons.

  5. It sounds like Ron might as well be pouring KC Masterpiece BBQ sauce all over his sushi. He could be eating the bestest sushi evah, and he’d never know.

    And ditto what the other guy said about Fuji and Yoshi. While they’re not cheap, they’re cheaper than Ichiban, and much better.

  6. demosthenes.or.locke

    Ichiban is horribly overpriced…. but to say there is no appreciable difference between it and kroger’s is probably a little exaggerated.

    They don’t have the best sushi in town in my opinion, but their seaweed salad is incredible .

  7. You all should know by now that Ron is all about exaggerating.

    If a place gives you a load of food for a cheap price, and if they have cheap beer…Ron is in heaven. The taste and quality seems to be secondary to him.

    He obviously has no culinary journalistic credibility.

  8. I bet the coating on the ice cream balls is mochi, which is pounded rice and totally a weird texture.

  9. Blair is correct – I believe the “doughy” coating is indeed mochi. And apparantly we aren’t enamored with it.

    But unlike Ron, I thought the green tea flavor was very nice. He is too hilljack to appreciate it. Maybe he would have liked “sweet tea with lemon” flavor better.

  10. The Vegetarian Wife

    Susan- would that be known as the Arnold Palmer Ball?

  11. Hilarious!

    BTW, he struck again today at Griffs. I couldn’t help it – I started laughing out loud. Misty covered her face with her menu but you could still see her shoulders shake as she laughed. Her poker face sucks…thus the cover up.

    Our waitress knew what it was and Daniel defended himself by saying “I’m trying to bring it back.”

    Does anyone WANT it back besides Daniel and the AARP Golf Fan Club?

  12. i know what you mean about dry servers at ichiban, the only saving grace are servers named Amy and Erica they are so much fun! She is worth the visit by herself…. As for the owners, i have never seen a restaurant worse off by having owners there. They clearly have no idea how horrible they treat people ecspecially their employees. I regretfully heard them speak to a couple of employees and i was embarrassed for them. They seem to act like working for them is an honor. I decided not to return there because of the disrespect that i saw there on top of the mediocre food.

  13. Ron you obviously need to keep eating sushi from krogers stick with what you are good at being cheap. All of you that keep wining and crying about the price of food and drinks in restarants just need to stay home and keep cutting your coupons…….

  14. Heather ~ you obviously have money to waste…

    For Christmas.. I’d like a six-pack of Natural Light, new under wear, and a wife beater T-Shirt.

    Thanks.

  15. I really like Ichiban. You need to try the latest item on the menu…tuna cheek! OMG! I’m a big fan of the rock shrimp on the appetizer list. The sauce that comes with it is amazing, spicy, and wonderful. I’m a huge fan of the lobster roll as well.

  16. I giggled every time someone wrote “ice cream balls.”

    Oh and for the record, the Heather who posted earlier…she and I are not the same person. I normally post under Chez. Not sure why the form is now coming up Heather.

  17. Mochi ice cream balls are actually extremely good. However, the green tea one is nasty. A lot of Chinese markets sell boxes of 6 of those ice cream balls for $3-$4 back where I came from in CA. My wife and I are planning to try out the Asian market in South Charleston sometime, and I hope to find them there. If you can try the chocolate ones, do that. They are the best. Then strawberry, then vanilla.

  18. I believe jap mochi is made with glutenous rice flour. I love having red bean or sesame~ ugh… this is making me hungry!

  19. I actually found the ice cream balls at Kroger once! They had vanilla, and strawberry ice cream, and then a mango sorbet flavor. The strawberry was yummy, and the perfect 100 calorie treat, lol. The mochi is odd at first, but it grows on you.

    I have been to ichiban once, and don’t plan on going back. I, like others, have found that the service is just awful. The place is cramped, and if you go on a weekend, you do have your occasional drunk stumbling around from Bar 101. I’m going to Sushi Atlantic this evening for dinner. I hear they have awesome sushi. Maybe the Fork You crew could do a review?

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