Review #4: Ichi

17 November 2017

I headed back to Tokyo after a nice few days in Kansai, still full from last night’s wonderful dinner at Wayamamura. I skipped lunch as I was actually not hungry… I made my way back to my usual hotel in Tokyo, my home-away-from-home, the wonderful Park Hotel, and unpacked and relaxed before I was to head out for an early-ish dinner this Friday evening.

Tonight’s dinner destination is one of my favourite restaurants in the world, the excellent Ichi in Roppongi. It’s my 4th visit to this comfortable eatery, and I’m glad they retained their 1 Michelin star. The hospitality at this place is exceptional, and they make everyone feel so comfortable. They take special care for their foreign customers, which is an attitude you don’t always see in Japan (though generally out of shyness and linguistic barriers).

I arrived and the familiar staff members, as well as Chef Yuichi Tanaka, smiled and greeted me. They remember me well, and I immediately felt at home sitting in my familiar counter spot. The cushion is so comfortable… I didn’t have to say anything and my wonderful server Ms Noguchi greeted me with the usual hand-written menu for this evening, as well as my first sake. They put together a sake pairing for me once again, and I already am anticipating a wonderful evening!

menu - 06

I don’t peek at the menu (this page came far later, but I had to share it to show how nicely they do this!) until the item is brought, as to not ruin the surprise. The first sake arrives, just in time for the first dish — a salad I’ve come to really love.

01-winter parsley

Today’s winter parsley from the garden of Chef’s parents, was especially tasty. I love the flavour of this type of parsley, a soft and sweet flavour accentuated by the shaved dry bonito and the light shoyu-based dressing. Really nice start! Then the hassun, which I always love…

02b-hassun

Another really excellent set here, with treats like kamasu (barracuda) sushi and stewed tako (octopus), from salmon skin to an eggplant tamago, from sweet potato to smoked salmon. All fantastic! Really happy so far, and the second sake worked really nice too. Then a third sake is poured, and we have our sashimi dish…

03b-sashimi

A wonderful selection, from saba (mackerel) to suzuki (sea bass), from o-toro to the rarer kuromutsu (gnomefish). A delicious set that would rival many of Tokyo’s finest sushi-ya’s output. Excellent! Then they brought a duelling set of sake for the next course, for me to taste the difference with the special seasonal variety…

04a-sawara

The next dish was sawara (spanish mackerel) grilled in paper with fig…

4

Lovely flavour here, love the white miso-based sauce here. Perfect with this oily fish. Loving it! And more sake! This is getting fun! Next up is taro fried in a mochi powder…

05-taro

Sounds odd, but quite tasty with a very complex sauce that involved crab, crysanthemum, bonito, kombu and other things. Quite fascinating, and quite nice. Then they bring out the grill and I sense beef coming up…

06e-grill

And indeed I am right, this time the ichibo is grilled with pear…

06k-ichibo

Lovely stuff…just melts in my mouth, with the pear adding a nice touch. Really delicious again! I love that photo of Chef at the grill as it reminds me of my first meal here, nearly the same pix

Then as they took the grill away and brought me another huge sake, they set up a shabu set…I wonder what the treat is for today…

07a-kue shabu set

Kue (longtooth grouper)! One of the true delicacies you find in Japan during the season, a lovely fish that you so rarely get.

07d-kue shabu

Worked well in a shabu form, as this didn’t need more than a quick dip. Just lovely…really savoured the taste of this. After I was done they poured the broth into a bowl for me, and brought me more sake! I wish I took down more detailed description of them, but they were all excellent and worked with each dish!

We moved then to the part of the meal I most look forward to each time I return. Earlier Chef had asked which rice I was interested in tonight, and I chose crab. And this was the result…oh my…

08a-rice bowl

This was excellent, topped with ikura as well.

08c-rice

I love how Chef does the controlled burn so you get a healthy portion of burnt rice too…it’s by far my favourite rice in any kaiseki place in Japan…

08e-last rice

I slowly finished all 3 helpings from the big bowl, much to everyone’s approval! Wow, this was good! Then a nice dessert…

09-dessert

Followed by just a visually dazzling tray with a last flavoured sake…

s

What a wonderful dinner once again! And for the heck of it, they brought me one last strong closing sake. I was full and happy and wee tipsy at this stage, feeling very happy. I love being back here, I feel so comfortable…they treat me like family, and feed me so well. Again, Ichi is one of my 5 favourite restaurants in the world, one that I would go back to time after time. No other place in Tokyo is automatic for dinner like Ichi for me.

I headed out after thanking Chef, Ms Noguchi and the rest of the staff. My happy place in Japan…

Ichi [いち]
7-10-30 Roppongi, Minato-ku
Tokyo, Japan

* BTW I have posted all the paired sakes here on my Instagram, in order of pairing. Scroll and enjoy…

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2 thoughts on “Review #4: Ichi

  1. Pingback: Review #2: Sushisho Masa | melhuang1972

  2. Pingback: Review #5: Ichi | melhuang1972

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