Ichiban's Japanese Steakhouse: Salisbury, NC
Thanks to my boss, for giving his employees a chance to enjoy this entertaining, delicious experience.
Ichiban's Japanese Steakhouse. For those of you unfamiliar with this concept of a open-grille steakhouse one is ushered in by tiny, little Asian beauties, seated around a parentheses table with grills installed at two opposite places with which the chef's play effortlessly in spectacular shows of fire and teriyaki.
You will be given menus which on further perusal reveal that this will be a 3 course meal. The soup du jour of the day is a calm broth with small circles of green onions and razor-thin slices of mushroom floating in it. It is the best kind of start to the meal because it awakens your appetite without claiming any part of it.
Before the soup is quite done a salad is served that looks frumpy and gritty but is actually a fun little crunch with iceburg lettuce and a fresh ginger dressing; it is refreshing. Sadly an unexpected twist of events occurs when, in an act of poetic justice, the iceburg lettuce is drowned in a spicy sea of ginger dressing spurring the nearby occupants to declare, "my heart will go on." This is not to be doubted considering the restorative properties of ginger.
A nearby restaurant compatriot said:
The chefs begin their time in the dining room by a 'Dance of the Spatulas' with a staccato tap dance of metal and percussion. The grill heats quickly and the appetizer of shrimp are neatly curled up next to each other in straight lines prettied in pink. The chef pours yum-yum sauce and ginger sauce in dipping bowls and lights the vegetables on fire briefly while warning us to watch our eyebrows. The heat of the fire is welcomed because the room is kept cool, and the eyebrows in the room are left intact.
It is said two's company, and three's a crowd, but I say artistry and appetite love odd company and a pair of shrimp is a miserly appetizer. Sadly, two it is and after de-tailing and de-veining we are given the shrimp while he embarks on a more deadly dance with the tails of the shrimp, catching them in bowls, hats, and occasionally deporting one to the floor. By now the vegetables and rice are coming along nicely and he seasons them with soy sauce and salt.
"Butter fly!" he calls as a neat snip of butter flies through the air to land among the vegetables.
The meat is added to our plates in a bit, and I add, cooked to perfection. The vegetables are dispersed first with a fried rice, and are started upon while the meat is finished. The medium-rare is a blend of sear and pink and to save on cutlery (I suppose) the steak is cut before it is handed out. I envy the chef his knife. Its razor sharp blade cut the rib-eye as if it were butter.
What began in fire, ends in fire and the chefs leave amid compliments and applause.
Price point: expect to spend between $16 - $25 per adult. This is not an appetizer only restaurant.
Selling point: the experience. The food is satisfactory, served sizzling hot, and the chefs are entertaining with their jokes and grill skills. Kids will love it. One small fry sitting across from us couldn't tear his eyes from the grill, what with the fire and theatrics.
Highlight: The steak. I asked for medium-rare and it was done perfectly.
3 out of 4 stars
Note: someone asked why I originally gave it 2.5 stars and I realized that while the distasteful plating, small appetizer, and frumpy salad did detract from the meal they still delivered a perfect steak and they are, after all, a steakhouse. Now it is three stars.