Last night me and one of my sisters decided to head to Bangor, about an hour away from the family farm, to catch a movie. We ended up going and seeing The Legend of Tarzan, which I thoroughly enjoyed for its "sophisticated campiness". After the movie got out we were feeling quite hungry so we decided to go out to eat, and of course, when I am in Bangor, there is only one restaurant that I want to go to. This is Ichiban, not only one of my favorite Japanese restaurants but the first one I ever went to. That's right, this is the place that taught me the power of Japanese cuisine.
When we got there the place was entirely empty, which wasn't surprising since it was a little early and downtown was a total bear since there was a Luke Bryan concert on the waterfront. I noticed right away that since the last time I ate there they had painted the ceiling so that the tiles were a pattern of alternating white and matcha green. One of my favorite parts of Ichiban is the decor, which is understated and pleasing. I adore the cream walls with black highlights, and the mix of artwork on the wall is playful (like the sumo prints in the back of the dining room). A lot of Japanese restaurants will go for the lush look, with fountains and elaborate lighting fixtures, but Ichiban has gone for the simpler look.
We got a nice table and were soon joined by my sister's boyfriend, who is always an extravagant sushi orderer. Once we had established that we were ordering sushi to share (and Carlos and I had updated each other on the state of our Pokemon Go) we set to work on the menu. I love it when sushi menus are the type you can mark with a dry-eraser marker, I alway forget what rolls I want after the first couple. There are so many different rolls on this menu that I get overwhelmed if I try to read them all, so I stick to my favorites and try and add one new one each time I go. This time we settled on yellowtail nigiri (picture at the top), the alligator roll, Godzilla roll, Hawaiian roll, and two salmon skin rolls. We also got seaweed and cucumber salads, one of my favorite parts of going out for Japanese food.
By the time we had put in our order the tables around us had filled up with other sushi lovers. Still, it wasn't long before we were enjoying our seaweed salad, and a short wait after that we had our sushi, brought out to us on a giant wooden ship. I always enjoy sushi, but the rolls they serve at Ichiban are heavenly. The balance of flavors is never off and the presentation is superb. Though the rolls that we got weren't exactly traditional, they sure were delicious. I especially loved the Godzilla roll, which was the new one for this trip. The combination of cream cheese, tobiko, eel, tempura shrimp, and spicy tuna should have been over whelming, but it was divine.
When we were finished with the devouring, I couldn't resist getting my sister to split my favorite dessert. This is something that was a family favorite at a Mexican restaurant that my family used to go to when I was a baby. I grew up hearing about it, but never got to try it for myself until I discovered it on the Ichiban menu. What dessert could possibly be at both a Mexican and a Japanese restaurant? Fried ice cream. That's right, fried. I wouldn't try this one at home because it's a bit tricky. Balls of ice cream, frozen rock hard, are covered in batter (in this case tempura batter) and deep fried until until golden brown. The combination of the deep freeze and the insulating batter keep it from becoming a very oily milkshake, and the results are amazing. I love the contrast of the crunchy crust, the soft batter, and the creamy insides!
Now completely stuffed, and entirely happy, we made our way to the counter to pay, where I enjoyed looking at the merchandise they have for sale. It's a bunch of cheep Japanese nicknacks, but I always appreciate it. This time I even bought a pair of "learner chopsticks" (attached at the top by a rubbery rabbit), which I thought might come in handy for my classes.
All in all, it was a wonderful evening, and I would recommend Ichiban for anyone looking for a good meal in the Bangor area.
Where is your favorite Japanese restaurant? I'd love to know! Use the comment section below for your personal recommendations.
Until next time, seriously, leave the fried ice cream to the professionals.