A friend of mine once went on a date with a guy who ate sushi with a fork. Should have taken him to ICHI, where there's a big mural with sushi-eating instructions. Pointers include: "eat sushi in one bite," "hold sushi rice-side up," "no soy sauce necessary," and "pour for each other." That said, he did also order a strawberry daiquiri, so the problem really was a larger one.
We’ve been hearing people rave about ICHI for lots of time now. And by "people," we mean the kind of people who insist on using the Japanese names for fish ("You mean CHU-TORO, right?"), and study the varieties of sashimi like they're Civil War battles. In other words, people who are serious about sushi seem to love ICHI.
So we finally strapped on our big kid pants and trekked into the very, very edge of the Mission-almost-Bernal-Heights to check it out.
While we can’t say we are going to jump on the obsession bandwagon, we can attest that everything on the menu is solid to strong, and there are some surprises that you definitely shouldn’t skip. Mostly, skewers. I know, we are those lame people who order meat on sticks at sushi restaurants. We also probably take cruises around the Florida coast and pay only for the Hot Country Sirius XM station. FALSE. We are bold food adventurers who take cruises around the Nova Scotian coast. But yes, when we eat at sushi restaurants we sample all the wares, raw, cooked, fish and fowl. And let us be the first to tell you that the skewers at ICHI are the sh*t.
As for the fish, many of the seasonal fish options were excellent, but we were a little disappointed with the rice, and there were a few cuts - shrimp, octopus, scallop - that didn’t knock our socks off. That said, if you round out your order with picks from across the menu, you'll leave pretty happy.
The vibe and set up is pretty classic, new, upscale Japanese with a sparse, clean interior and tons of uncomfortable sushi bar stools. Remember, sushi tastes best when your butt is numb. Despite the rules on the wall and the serious about sushi crowd that ICHI tends to attract, the place is pretty laid back and unsnobby overall. Even fork guy would probably like it here.
Better and bigger than average, and good to share. A little lemon juice and unidentifiable shavings brighten them up.
We were instructed to fold the tuna pieces up like tacos to eat and we willingly complied. The crispy shallots and salty tobiko are perfect, and the tuna is quality fish.
ICHI has acquired the world’s crispiest cucumbers and covered them in an insanely good miso tahini sauce. Order this. We would eat steel wool dunked in this sauce.
Very heavy on the sesame oil, and a little crunchier than normal. It’s OK, but you can do better.
These are the truth. We sh*t you not. 100% drop the extra $1 on the egg yolk to dip these guys in. It is earth-shatteringly good. Salmonella is just a myth.
Pork Shoulder: Magic pig. It melts off the skewer.
Beef Flank Steak: They know how to cook steak, tender and flavorful. Get some yolk on that for good measure
Chicken Meatballs: Served three per skewer, these were the only ones recommended to us, and ended up our least favorite. Still excellent, but not as incredible as the other meats.
All the rolls are super simple. No tempura or crazy mayo drizzles. We support this, and are big fans of anything involving yellowtail.
Choose wisely. Tuna belly and sea bream are by far the best fish cuts, and for the veggie options the eggplant is crazy good. The rice was dry and not particularly seasoned, and the pieces of fish seemed on the small side, but we weren’t mad at any of the options - some are just a step above the rest.