For a cuisine of such seeming simplicity, the spectrum of quality of sushi available on the UK high-street is vast. The fine margin between garbage and quality lies in the detail. From my reasonably extensive sampling it seems that success lies in the use of exceptionally fresh, quality fish and moist, firm, flavoursome sushi rice.
At the cheap end of the sushi scale I’ve eaten the excellent from places such Japan Centre in London whilst I’ve also sampled the rather poor from the conveyor belt of mediocrity that is Yo Sushi. Ichiban serves up sushi which lies somewhere in the middle; it’s pretty decent but it’s not without its flaws.
We visited the Roath branch as it’s within rolling distance of home. The dining space is bright and clean, the serving staff were exceptionally friendly and efficient, and the beer and ice tea were cool and refreshing.
I started with some delicious unagi nigiri (£3.20). Moist, sweetly glazed smoked eel sat atop fresh sushi rice. The tempura roll was also pretty decent (£4.00) – the tempura king prawn at the centre of the roll was plump and juicy but the batter had lost a little of its crispness.
I then moved onto chicken katsu don (£7.50). Sliced deep fried breaded chicken and omelette lay on a huge bowl of sticky rice and stir fried onions. The dish was pretty tasty; the chicken was moist and the portion size was exceptionally generous. However, the batter on the chicken was on the soggy side and the flavours a little one dimensional owing to the dominance of the sweet onion. A good dash of soy and wasabi pepped things up no end. An accompanying bowl of some lovely miso soup came with the dish.
Mrs G started with a chicken salad (£4.20) - Fresh salad, moist shredded chicken and an enjoyable soya dressing with a good kick of wasabi.
She then moved onto some very good California rolls (£4.30) with the usual filling of avocado, cucumber, crab stick and mayonnaise and a rather pretty coating of caviar.
Her only disappointment was a tuna hand roll (£2.80). Although the tuna and sushi rice were fresh and well flavoured they were spoilt by a seriously leathery nori coating.
As with many other places the success of a meal at Ichiban depends heavily on the choices you make. Pick wisely and you’ll eat well. Just avoid the mediocre options…
Address - Ichiban Cardiff, 167 Albany Road, Roath, Cardiff, CF24 3NT
Telephone – 029 20463333