Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Review - Ichi Ni - $$-$$$ - V

I hadn't bothered with Ichi Ni before as my very trusted foodie friend had given it a massive thumbs down not long after it first opened. But since then I have heard really great reports and thought that I should make up my own mind and give it a whirl.
We went to see the hilarious Bill Bailey at the gorgeous, and thankfully still standing, Palais Theatre (in your face triangle development!) so it was the perfect excuse to try Ichi Ni.

When we arrived we were greeted with a smilely 'moshimoshi' from the chefs in the open plan kitchen. There's various types of seating at Ichi Ni: a heated deck, booths, regular tables or you can sit up at the bar and watch the masters at work. The decor is all dark wood and red upholstery and drapes, with these great retro printed lanterns hanging above the bar and lots of mirrors and shiny surfaces.

The waiters were super friendly and knowledgeable, their denim aprons add to the relaxed vibe and they explained how best to order without sounding bossy or overbearing.
Being an izakaya the food is meant for sharing and is described as Japanese-style tapas; we were told the two most popular dishes are the ebi mayo - deep fried tiger prawns with Japanese mayo - and the gyoza. I'd heard good things about the gyoza so we ordered both recommendations and added edamame, nama kaki (fresh oysters with ponzu) and vegetable and fish tempura tasting plates.
We also went for some yakitori (skewers) and tried the unagi (eel) and pork belly. When I asked if we had enough dishes for four people the waiter said probably one or two more would be suitable but he suggested we eat and if wanted more we could just order more later.

The food was served quickly and two dishes arrived at a time. There was just enough space between courses and everything was simply delicious. The wasabi that was in the mayo served drizzled over the prawns was just superb. The oysters were so fresh, the spring onion on top providing a nice zing and crunch against the meat of the mollusk.
The gyoza was good but not groundbreaking and the pink tinged pickled radish dipping sauce the accompanied the tempura was also excellent, although the tempura batter was a little soft.
The yakitori has two skewers per serve and they were nice and char-grilled in flavoured.
Our waiter was spot on with his suggestion as to how much food we needed, so extra king prawns and gyoza were needed. What a shame - not!
There is sushi and sashimi featured on the menu, as well as dishes for one if you're not in the mood to share.

I'm kind of sad in a way that I waited this long to visit Ichi Ni but perhaps it took a little while for them to find their groove. I will be trying to convince my friend to give it another try because I think it's great. In fact my friend asked me today where I think he should have his birthday dinner in a few weeks and I suggested it without hesitation, I can't wait to go back!

Ichi Ni Izakaya on Urbanspoon


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