There’s already a very good Chris Sherman St. Pete Times review of Ichiban Japanese Restaurant & Sushi Bar (2050 16th St N, St Petersburg, FL 33704; 727-896-1101), and this is one of my mini-posts, so mainly I just heartily second Chris Sherman’s recommendation. However, I do have a few extra, quite positive, comments to add.
In addition to their excellent sushi and Japanese entrees, Ichiban has a number of Thai dishes which are as good as any dedicated Thai restaurant (the ichiban owner is Thai). Additionally–and I think this is a very nice feature for an Asian restaurant–similar to seafood restaurants that have some “landlubber” selections, they have a couple of completely non-Asian dishes. For families or groups of friends who can’t go to Asian restaurants together because there’s someone in the crowd that just doesn’t like Asian food, this handles that situation. I’m surprised more Asian restaurants don’t do this; it’s a good idea.
Everyone I’ve ever brought to Ichiban has commented on its ambience. It’s quiet, cozy, relaxed, hushed, very comfortable. It’s a respite from the heat, noise, and glare outside. Inside Ichiban, its little sushi bar is tucked back around behind one corner and gives the feel of an intimate neighborhood bar, which—I guess—it kind of is (they do serve wine and beer).
Their menu has some items on it that I’ve not seen on run-of-the-mill sushi joints around town. Their eel is an example. You can get eel sushi or eel on a bowl of rice. Many years ago, I was introduced to Long Island eel by a friend, but had never had Asian prepared eel until another friend, recently, saw this on the Ichiban menu and insisted I try it. Now I’m hooked.
For me, an additional draw is Ann’s, next door! It’s an Asian hair salon with men’s haircuts for $5. I’ve got my favorite operator there, but they’re all good. So, every few weeks, I do as I did today and head to Ann’s for my $5 (plus $2 tip) haircut and then go right next door to Ichiban’s for a couple eel sushi rolls.
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