Sometimes it isn't wise to listen to the voices inside your head. After seeing "Ichiban" on the sign outside, that little voice was saying "sushi" as we walked in the door of Ichiban Steakhouse, and visions of perfectly cut pieces of raw fish shoved aside the visions of sugarplums now seven months past their prime on the main brain stage. Hungry and salivating over the thought of sushi, I was ready to eat. But when we walked in the door, the place seemed entirely empty. Then the spawn and I realized we had entered the back entrance of the restaurant, and everyone was on the other side.
After walking to the other side of the restaurant, it suddenly dawned on me that this was one of those places where you sit around the grill and watch the chef do a percussion with the knives and spatula. He'd juggle the egg before cracking it on the grill, make a lot of comments intended to be funny, construct the flaming volcano out of an onion and, as my dad once put it, ruin a filet mignon by chopping it up in to chunks. The only thing is, the spawn think it's a riot. It's kind of like a mini ethnic Disneyland with food. They love the show--âeven when the chef misses and the egg cracks across the spatula.
A typical grill seats eight and although the restaurant has at least that number of grills, they packed us in to one with two other groups of patrons. This is par for the course at a Japanese steakhouse, where maximization of the chef's time is necessary. It's much easier for him to slice, dice and stir fry rice for a group of eight at a time than eight individual servings.
But my desire for sushi, and the fact that I told the spawn we were going for sushi (which is one of their favorites), made us order a few a la carte items from the tiny sushi bar. The sushi looked a little anemic, but if I closed my eyes it tasted fine. Knowing there would be quite a bit of food from any of the meat selections on the menu, I limited the spawn to one children's portion of the teriyaki chicken, and I got the big mama-jamba plate, the Kinja platter. With shrimp, lobster and filet mignon in addition to the miso soup, kabob-ish appetizer and dessert called a "snowball" (a chocolate sundae with coconut), I knew I'd have enough to share with the two little birds next to me.
The spawn, while quite entertained, were also very well-behaved throughout the whole meal. And the other patrons, whose initial looks about being forced to sit next to two young-uns were not seemingly positive, by the end actually looked amused.
Back to the food. Yeah, it was good. It was cooked excellently and we had full tummies walking out of there. Besides you have to admire a place that refills your tea and the kid's drinks as often as they did. As we left, Ichiban got the best compliment I can think of: The spawn asked if we could go again sometime.
--Bingo Barnes does not even attempt to juggle eggs.
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.