Ichiban Japanese Steakhouse and Sushi 

On a Monday evening, I rounded up a party of four and drove to Ichiban on the corner of Broadway and Beacon. I guess I'd always known, but I find it urgent to pass on now that anytime one goes to a restaurant featuring teppanyaki-style dining (if you're curious, this title comes from the Japanese word "teppan," meaning "iron plate," and "yaki," meaning "grilled"--which translates to, "they cook on a big metal slab in front of you"), your experience really can be defined by "the more, the merrier." The more people you either bring in or sit with at your table, the better the show you get.

And if you've never been treated to a teppanyaki meal before, ooh, you need to be. There's plenty of fire, plenty of good-natured banter from the chef, you always get a plate that's plenty full and, if you have anything smaller than a grizzly's stomach, you'll leave plenty full.

I've never been much of a sushi eater. If I'm in a group of friends who insist on eating the (as I consider it) conspicuously uncooked food, I'll close my eyes and swallow it without a complaint. A complimentary word from me on sushi anywhere would hold little weight, though, because I scarcely know the difference between the good stuff and a wad of fish bundled in a leaf. Given a chance to himself weigh in on Ichiban's offering, my roommate insisted, "It's good." Our chef, "Bobby"--he refused to give his real name--said their real specialty is making sushi to taste. You name the ingredients, they build it.

I did as I always do and ordered the teriyaki chicken with fried rice.

Every meal comes with two opening courses, miso soup and a lettuce-and-carrot-sliver salad topped with a remarkably-like-Thousand-Island-sans-the-pickles dressing.

The two girls in our party ordered the special with yakisoba noodles. (Note 1: If you want to see your food cooked in front of you, don't order the noodles--they are prepared in the kitchen.) The yakisoba was a little heavy on the ginger for my delicate tastebuds, but if you enjoy a generous helping of the root, this is your dish.

The roommate ordered a combination of shrimp and filet mignon. (Note 2: If you want beef, upgrade from the steak to the filet--it's well worth the minimal cost increase.)

If you have eaten at a teppanyaki house before, you know what to expect, and Ichiban is as good as any other. Those who haven't had a teppanyaki experience can expect dinner to cost between $13 and $28 and should be ready for a show. If you're a frequent visitor, you'll smile when I say it, and if you have yet to go, watch out for the onion volcano, the Japanese Coca-cola, the shrimp toss and a restaurant full of crooners on your birthday.

--Travis Estvold wears a hot pink hachimaki.

Ichiban Japanese Steakhouse and Sushi, 1233 Broadway Ave., 426-9188. Mon.-Fri.: 11 a.m.-2 p.m., Sun.-Thu.: 4:30 p.m.10 p.m., Fri.-Sat.: 4:30-11 p.m.

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