My First Taste of Tokyo… Ichi That Is

Thank goodness for gift certificates.

I love foods of all kinds, there’s no denying that. In fact, now that I can eat olives (which was a recent culinary advancement for me), I essentially eat every food. Japanese cuisine falls into the “every food” category. However, for some reason I had never been to the Rochester staple, Ichi Tokyo.

Until now.

For those of you who don’t know, Ichi Tokyo has two Rochester location, soon to be three. There is one in northwest Rochester across 37th Street from Best Buy. The other is in a strip mall in southeast Rochester across Broadway from O’Reilly Auto Parts. The third will be in the old Goonie’s building Downtown. For this trip, my wife and I chose the northwest location.

Back to my opening line. Again, I’d never been to Ichi Tokyo, and I don’t know that it would have been my choice had it not been for a gift certificate I received. Boy am I glad I got that gift certificate.

The northwest location is tucked into the corner of a strip mall, but visible from Highway 52 at 37th Street. As we walked in, I noticed the neon. There are beer signs in every window to the point it looks like a sports bar. After walking in, I quickly realize it’s definitely a Japanese sushi restaurant. Yes, there’s a full bar. But there’s also an aroma of one of the most unique and decadent cuisines on the planet.

As we sat down, the first thing I saw on the table was the “all you can eat” menu. On one side, there’s the starters, soups, and sashimi. On the reverse, there are several different kinds of sushi rolls. With the exception of sashimi, the food will keep coming as long as you wish.

Before deciding what to eat, I ordered a drink any logical person would order to prep for all-you-can-eat sushi. Miller Lite.

After getting our drinks, we both tell our waitress, Alice, we are getting the all-you-can-eat sushi, to which she responds, “It’s a good time.” At this point, I already love my choice.

Side note, Alice was a great waitress. Energetic, happy, and enjoyable to converse with.

Back to the order. Both of us decided to order the max number of rolls you can with each round, three. On top of that, we both got appetizers to enjoy ahead of the sushi. We got crab rangoon and pork pot stickers. If you’ve read my Happy China blog, you’ll know I’m very particular about crab rangoon.

Spoiler, this is the best crab rangoon I’ve ever had. Not only was the ratio of filling to breading perfect. The outside was the crispiest, flakiest (not sure if either of those are words, but let’s take this ride together) crust I’ve ever had on a crab rangoon. I looked across the table and said, “I could honestly eat this without the filling.” The pot stickers were also very high quality. Not too slimy with an extremely flavorful filling. This was an incredible start, but I was definitely ready for sushi.

Warning, here comes the second callback of the blog. My initial restaurant review of City Market was called “Ode to a Sandwich”. Sandwiches are awesome, I love them, and could probably (definitely) eat them every day. When I was going through the sushi menu, I wanted to select based on name alone without looking at the ingredients. Boom, Sandwich Roll. I instantly ordered the Sandwich Roll as soon as I saw it. For my second and third rolls, I went with Angel Roll and Phoenix Roll.

When the plate showed up at the table I was in awe. The Sandwich Roll actually looked like a sandwich. Of course, I tried that one first. I went with the salmon version. It took me about 90 seconds to get the chopsticks to sit correctly in my hand to a point that I could, at the very least, hang on the sushi from the plate to my mouth. It was incredible. The flavor of the salmon was very apparent. The texture of the filling was different than any sushi I’d ever had before, but it wasn’t a bad texture by any means. It was a great blend of textures between the salmon filling and rice “bread” on the outside. A great start to the all-you-can-eat “good time”.

Second, I go for the Phoenix Roll. Before the plate even arrived, I predicted this one would be my favorite because the base of the roll is shrimp tempura. I put the first piece into my mouth and I couldn’t have been more right. The texture was what brought the entire roll together. I loved the flavor of the eel sauce with the avocado combined with the crunch of the shrimp. It created a party in my mouth I never wanted to end. Whether the name is based on the city or the majestic fiery bird, I was on board.

Finally, it’s on to the Angel Roll. This roll was the most up-in-the-air for me. This roll has tuna crunch and wasabi sauce on the inside, with top salmon and other ingredients on the outside. It was almost like two sushi rolls stacked on top of each other. This was by far the most interesting flavor of the night. The texture was a more traditional sushi texture, but the combination of both wasabi sauce and eel sauce made for a 1-2 punch I wanted to keep on taking. It was, dare I say, heavenly.

Since we both got all-you-can-eat, we both tried all six rolls. My wife got the Rochester Roll and New Crazy Roll. I don’t remember what the third one was, but that’s possibly because I was so caught off guard by the other two. They were DEEP FRIED. That’s right. Something I’d never heard of before. The sushi was rolled, like normal, then battered and deep fried.

Both of the rolls were insanely good. The crunch of the deep fried exterior with the soft cream cheese and meat on the inside made for an awesome texture. The New Crazy Roll also had the duo of sauces I mentioned earlier, so the 1-2 punch didn’t have to end when my angel roll ended. It was sweet, then spicy, then salty, then all of the above. It was incredible. The Rochester Roll was a bit more simple, but equally as tasty. It had the “special” sauce on it. I don’t know what the special sauce is, but it worked perfectly with the roll.

Toward the end of the meal, I noticed I had one piece of the sandwich roll left and realize I’d almost finished the plate making a crucial mistake. I was stupid full at this point, but I had to do it. I looked at my wife, apologized in advance for embarrassing her, then picked up the Sandwich Roll piece like it was an actual sandwich. The sandwich-sushi relationship was now complete and I was at peace.

Now to the amount of food consumed. After eating a crab rangoon and two pot stickers, I proceeded to eat my entire plate. My wife threw in the towel much earlier than I did (it goes without saying, she’s the smart one), but my stomach generally wins over my brain. I continued eating from her plate until there was simply no more room. 35. When all was said and done, I ate 35 pieces of sushi. Worth. Every. Bite.

If you’re in the mood for sushi, I highly recommend Ichi Tokyo. If you’re in the mood for more sushi than anyone should legally consume, I higherly (making up words and I don’t care) recommend it. The all-you-can-eat is appropriately priced considering the average cost of sushi. Even if you don’t want more than one or two sushi rolls, you can load up on the incredible starters. Seriously, get the crab rangoon.

It took far too long for Ichi Tokyo and I to meet, but it won’t be the last time our paths cross.

Thank goodness for gift certificates.

Be happy, eat happy, and remember the good in everything you consume.


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