Restaurants & Bars

Ichiban in StL is Icky

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Ichiban in StL is Icky

Rick Gans | Jul 19, 2002 02:02 AM

I am a big sushi eater, starting in the late 70s when there was one sushi restaurant in St. Louis, the Mikado, and following up with 1 to 2 sushi meals per week for the past 20 years...seriously. We went from having only 5 sushi restaurants in St. Louis only 3-4 years ago, to having a dozen from which to chose these days. I have visited all of them at least once, EXCEPT for the new one under Zhivago's. Those are my qualifications; here is my opinion about "Icky Bomb".

I visited Ichiban about a week after they opened and had a wonderful meal in this nicely decorated new sushi restaurant. I could not wait to return. Before I could make it back, I heard from several people that they had bad experiences there with poor service and mediocre food. When I finally returned about two weeks ago, we got there for dinner at about 5:30 and the place was empty, save for two other tables. I was the only sushi eater and the other 3 with me ordered cooked food. The cooked food came out in about 15 minutes, but the sushi took 40 minutes. Remember, they were not busy when we arrived. My wife ordered the Japanese Salad and the avocado was not even close to ripe. When she took a bite, it sounded like eating a carrot. She requested the salad be remade and instead, they brought her a small plate of sliced avocados. They were no better and she simply didn't eat her salad. I enjoyed my sushi, saving the one piece of toro for last. I have had toro about 25 times and it has always appeared to be primarily red in color, with some fat and grizzle showing. The piece they served me was bright white, with specs of red. I took a small bite and gagged on the spoiled fish taste. I managed to spit most of it out on my napkin and immediately asked my waitress to replace the piece. She removed my plate, and a minute later, the owner appeared with the same piece. She proceeded to tell me that toro is supposed to be that color and there was nothing wrong with my piece. I told her I had eaten toro many times and my main problem was not the appearance, but the taste. I challenged her to cut off a small piece from the end I had not touched and if she thought the fish was not spoiled, I would pay for it without eating it. She returned with a new piece of toro that was not only the right color, but tasted fine. But she also returned with an attitude that was as rotten as the first piece of fish.

Left with not knowing if my first or second visit was typical, I returned with a friend today for a third visit (his first). We each ordered two rolls and 6 pieces. I should mention we were there from 11:45 until 1:00 and the place was empty. His tuna and avocado roll lacked avocado in 3 of 6 pieces. Both of our spicy tuna rolls lacked any fish in 9 of 12 pieces. We requested these poorly made rolls be replaced and the waitress came back with some not ripe avocado in the tuna and avocado roll and an explanation that the spicy tuna roll has a small amount of white tuna mixed in with the spice, but is not made with pieces of tuna (despite the fact that some pieces did indeed have tuna). We decided to hold our tongues, finish lunch and leave. Just then the owner came by and asked how we liked our lunches. My friend proceeded to tell her we did not like their food at all and this would be our last visit. She asked if this was his first visit and then asked what I thought. I told her I had eaten sushi many times and had never been served a tuna roll with no tuna. I told her this would also be my last visit. When she asked if this was my first visit, I proceeded to tell her about my last experience and about the toro incident. In the middle of this sentence, she looked at me and said, "I remember you" and with that, she turned around and walked away. That was it. Rather than attempt to ask two obviously dissatisfied customers how they could improve their empty restaurant, she dismissed us with a sneer and walked away.

Within about 5 miles, there are 5 sushi restaurants from which to choose. Don't waste your time or money at Icky Bomb.

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