At this point in quarantine, even the simplest joys can feel monumental. A drive up PCH, a new show on Netflix, an in-person conversation - in a year largely devoid of regular emotional output, an unexpected rush of serotonin can be downright overwhelming. We know, because it’s exactly what we experienced walking into Ichijiku.
To be clear, no element of this neighborhood sushi bar in Highland Park is actually overwhelming. With a contactless takeout system, a socially distant back patio for hanging out, and reserved spaces out front for pick-up, it’s about as seamless of a restaurant experience as you could hope for right now. But discovering a casual sushi spot with affordable, fresh fish that tastes great? In 2020, that’s more than overwhelming. It feels downright euphoric.
We ordered our food for takeout via their website (you can also walk-in and order at the register), with no plans of dining in. But upon seeing the calm, well-shaded patio, we decided to forgo another car-dinner and enjoy our meal outside, instead. We ate fresh $6 albacore nigiri, multiple baked crab hand rolls, and snacked on crispy lotus root chips. Aside from some truly ingenious vegan rolls (more on that below), this is the kind of fish your novice sushi friends will recognize, but done so well that even the sushi snobs in your life will walk away impressed. And that makes Ichijiku the kind of catch-all sushi spot worth checking out immediately - even during quarantine.
This was the best piece of fish we had all night. Light and translucent, with a strong peppery kick, we’d paid double the $6 price point to eat it.
If a sushi bar can’t nail its salmon nigiri, it’s not a great sign. Luckily, Ichijiku doesn’t have that problem. This isn’t the absolute greatest piece of salmon we’ve ever eaten, but it’s still very good, and should definitely make it into your order.
Yellowtail & Habanero Cut Roll
If you order only one hand roll, make sure it’s this one. The yellowtail itself is fresh and buttery and the habanero mixed in is no joke. Prepare for a decent kick.
Baked Crab Hand Roll
Though this falls in the cut roll section, you can just ask them to make it a hand roll instead. Did we go back up to the counter and order a second one? We sure did.
We’ll be honest - we were hesitant to try any of Ichijiku’s vegan rolls, but after closer inspection, it was obvious these weren’t just strips of cucumber slapped into seaweed paper. There’s the beet roll with a creamy tofu sauce, roasted red pepper with crispy lotus root, and a natto roll (fermented soy beans with shiso). These are inventive, unique, and delicious rolls that should be on the table - whether you’re vegan or not.
Japanese Omelette Nigiri
Ichijiku’s tamago is sweet, delicate, and the ideal way to end your meal here.