Emma’s Eats: Ichiban Steakhouse & Sushi Bar
BY EMMA SLONINA, Staff Columnist
A brief lesson in terms: hibachi is a Japanese charcoal grill with an open-grate design. Teppanyaki refers to the Japanese cooking done on an iron griddle, typically in front of restaurant guests. Almost everyone has been to a Benihana or knows what it’s all about. Theatrical cooking and chef-guest interaction.
I had the pleasure of joining the Political Science Association at their end-of-the-semester-social for some teppanyaki at Ichiban Steakhouse and Sushi Bar in Canton. We were seated in an enormous square around two teppanyaki griddles and, having such a large group (as well as a few random straggler couples on one end), we got to see the show several times.
Orders were efficiently and carefully taken around the table, then we were brought miso soup and ginger-dressing salads. Finally, a ginger-dressing salad I could get behind! Everything was crisp, bright, and well-balanced flavor-wise.
The chefs finally came out with their cart of tools, seasonings, and food. They started off with pieces of zucchini and broccoli, sliced quickly on the griddle-top, then unceremoniously flung into each guest’s mouth. At least that was the intention; most of it ended up on the floor.
Then, of course, there was an onion ring volcano: giant slices of onion carefully stacked one on top of the other, then set ablaze and shifted around the griddle to great effect. The flame was put out by a rather rude water-squirter.
As the rest of the vegetables cooked, large bowls of rice and mounds of butter were heaped onto the griddles and fried as the chefs did tricks with their utensils, tossing them around and spinning eggs on the griddle. This “egg roll” elicited groans from our group.
Each diner got a portion of fried rice that could easily feed two, if not three – and this was only part one of the main meal. The chefs proceeded to pull out trays of meat and seafood, asking how each was to be cooked.
Treating ourselves, our end of the table got steak, filet mignon, scallops, and shrimp. We watched as the chef deftly sliced through the meats and lined up the shrimp so each was spooning with the next. While it all cooked, he offered sake around the table in one of those squeezy bottles usually used for ketchup or mustard. Everyone cheered on our brave friends who took it on, sitting with their mouths open as the chef squirted sake at them.
Before we could even finish our rice, he returned to his cooking, threw some seasoning over everything, served sauces, and piled our plates with meat, shrimp, and vegetables. Everything was perfect–tender, juicy meat, delicate scallops, and perfectly-cooked shrimp. The seasoning was heavy on some parts of it, but tossed around with the other vegetables and rice on the plate, it evened out.
No one to my knowledge tried the sauces we had been served, most likely because we were all too busy eating. They call one the “yum-yum” sauce, so I’d say that’s a pretty good sign of its quality and flavor. I wish I had tried it–especially on the rice, as they recommended–but I have no problem going back to do so.
The mixed drinks were fantastic, as well. Delicious, decently-sized, and potent. The “Happy Birthday” drink was particularly good. They have a long list of choices, as well as a variety of sake, beer, and wine.
The food is pricey, especially if you order a combination or “emperor’s” dinner, but a treat once in a while won’t break the bank. I ended up taking a lunch-sized portion home with me afterwards and enjoyed it the next day, definitely adding to the value.
They do also serve sushi and other Japanese dishes, not just dishes from the teppanyaki. The reviews I’ve seen of their other offerings have not been as positive, but it could be worth exploring. Maybe they should just stick to teppanyaki, but I don’t see that as much of a loss.
Open 7 days a week, for lunch and dinner. Contact (734) 414-1888.