Front St. E & Wellington St. E
Continuing my tour of downtown Toronto, I happened to find myself standing out the front door of Ichiban Sushi. Located across the street from the historical Godderham building (a.k.a. Flatiron Building), a couple blocks east of Yonge.
Ichiban – translating to ‘number one’ in english, is terribly overused in the naming of Japanese restaurants throughout North America. This is one of my personal warning signs – usually preventing me from going to eat at a particular restaurant; however, my overwhelming hunger won.
I usually try to order at least one cooked dish at every Japanese restaurant to get a full picture of an establishment, and I’m a sucker for good gyoza. These were served with a nice crisp base, and a flavourful filling. It was a little off-putting to see them cooking these on a rickety stove just to the left of the sushi bar, but the outcome was just fine.
Next to arrive was the the green dragon maki. The presentation is definitely non-traditional, but I did enjoy the playfulness of it. On a side note (maybe this is just a mental thing) – but I much prefer the choice of naming this a dragon over a caterpillar (something I saw years ago at a different restaurant).
We also ordered the 20 piece chef’s choice nigiri combo. This was rather disappointing. I would have expected a higher quality and selection of fish, not to mention that the nigiri were ridiculously small. Don’t get me wrong – I am not saying that nigiri sushi needs to be big – but these were tiny ( I honestly could have slid my wedding ring over some of these).
The ebi were prepared poorly, as they were split right through (my guess is that they were using factory deveined shrimp), and the majority of the fish was dry and as already mentioned – the selection was weak. From a presentation perspective – I’m not a fan of stacking sushi on top of another – and yet again with ridiculous garnishes of parsley, lemon, and baran.
I have since discovered that this restaurant is a franchise location (another of my personal warning signs). Belonging to the Ichiban Sushi House organization, currently operating about 20 locations throughout the GTA. It appears to be a Korean run organization – as their Ichiban sushi college website is entirely published in hangul.
I was a little perturbed with their claim that they are “one of the leading figures in Canada that developed the Sushi industry”, especially since they’ve only been in operation since 1983. I know a few places even in Edmonton, which have been around years before this.