Ichiro Japanese restaurant off of Convoy Street, in the shopping center with Yoshinoya and Boot World, is my FAVORITE Japanese restaurant in town. What makes it a favorite in my book? Authenticity and that they have a kick-butt teriyaki rib eye steak. I say authenticity because most of the personnel are Japanese and speak the language that I studied for four years in college. They also understand me when I say "Gochisosama deshita" ("Thank you for the food - I am spoiled") as we leave the restaurant.
I can't even remember the first time I came here. It was back in the college, for sure. I remember introducing a lot of people to this restaurant - family members, out-of-town friends, my co-workers, and of course, my husband.
When you walk in, you are greeted immediately with "Irrashaimase" and depending how busy they are, they seat you immediately. To the left, there's the sushi bar and large group seating. I am sad that they removed the traditional seating on the floor where you sit on cushions with your shoes off, but I guess it's just better for your body to sit on a bench. Understandable. To the right of the hostess stand are booths and tables. There are food specials written in Hiragana/Kanji/English on whiteboards and types of Japanese beer displayed on the walls.
My favorite food items here are the:
- Caterpillar Roll - eel (unagi), avocado, cucumber, crab meat
- Kaki Fry - deep fried oysters, served with lemon wedges and tartar sauce
- Sesame Chicken - crispy chicken cutlet with teriyaki sauce and toasted sesame seeds
- Tempura anything
- and my favorite... the Teriyaki Steak
Mike and I came here one weekday evening to beat the traffic going down south from Mira Mesa. I ordered the Teriyaki Steak and Mike ordered the Teriyaki Chicken. We got a choice of "creamy mayo" or "ginger soy" as a salad dressing on simple romaine lettuce, shredded purple cabbage, and shredded carrots - pre-packaged, I bet. Here's a tip... always get the ginger soy. It's the best and so oishii (duh-licious). The creamy mayo dressing doesn't really have any flavor, in my opinion.
We were so hungry that I didn't take pictures of the salad or the cup of miso shiru (soup) that comes with your dinner entree. This is the Teriyaki Steak - it's an 8 oz. thinly sliced rib eye steak, grilled to perfection, served on a bed of sauteed bean sprouts, carrots, celery, and onions, with teriyaki sauce all over. When they bring it out from the kitchen to your table, it comes out all sizzling, just like fajitas at a Mexican restaurant. It's a "head turner" because people always look to see what's sizzling and what smells so darn good. Yep, it's my steak, peeps! It's served with a little dish of steamed rice.
I'm telling you. This steak cannot do you wrong. It is so delicious and flavorful, that you will not be sorry. If you run into the small pieces of fat, no worries. Don't eat it - simple as that.
Here's what you do, using your chopsticks, pick up one piece of the pre-cut rib eye with your chopsticks and place on top of your rice bowl, which you are holding in your left hand. You pick up the veggies and place in the bowl too. Then, you eat the steak and veggies in one swoop, then you pick up the rice that has been soaking in the teriyaki sauce. YUM.
On to Mike's food... I forgot to take a picture of his right away, so about 1/4 of his food was already in his tummy. As you can see, the little ramekin of bean sprout salad is all gone and somewhat spread out on his plate.
The teriyaki chicken is a safe, traditional entree that is still ranked high in my book in terms of tastiness. The chicken that they use is dark meat, pounded thin, and grilled. They serve it with a small side of their version of a mashed potato salad, a bean sprout salad, and a serving of steamed rice.
Coming to Ichiro reminds me of how I loved studying the Japanese language in college, how much I miss my tomodachi no Nihonjin (Japanese friends) and that one day we will visit Tokyo, Japan and eat ramen on the edge of river at a little stand.
Nihon-ryouri ga tabetai desu ka?? Ichiro e ikimashouuuuu!
Yeah, I still got it - kinda.