On Ichiro Sushi and Fears Overcome.

Donate blood and find delicious sushi.  Those were my goals yesterday.

I’m happy to report I accomplished them both, without fainting during the first (I have a history) or eating my weight in tempura (a history here, also).

Needles and seaweed have something in common for me: at one point I was afraid of them both.  The aversion to needles stems from a childhood bout with mono, during which time I experienced one too many blood tests for my poor little arms to handle.  I hated it.

The fear of seaweed began when I was about 14 and tried sushi for the first time.  It was a homemade carrot and cucumber roll made by the mother of one of my mom’s students.  Before I ate it, my mom pointed out how finely and precisely the vegetables inside it had been cut.  It was beautiful.  I put it in my mouth and bit down, then ran straight to the garbage and spat it out.  I can’t remember a single other time I’ve done that, and I’m honestly quite ashamed.  It was a utterly foreign flavour, and I hated it too.

I eventually came around to loving seaweed (if at first you don’t succeed…..) and also outgrew my fear of needles.  I now donate every 3 months at Canada Blood Services, and do so for two reasons: 1) It could save someone’s life, and 2) they ask you to please sit down and have a juice box + snack before you go.  There are trashy magazines and plenty of timbits, and I enjoy the forced break.  I recognize the first reason is significantly more important than the second, but reading about Angelina Jolie while eating donuts is still swell.

Sushi is now also a regular part of my existence, though unfortunately it doesn’t save lives.  Today I was joined by some friends at Ichiro Sushi, a popular and highly recommended spot in Steveston.

It’s a friendly place (upon arrival we were greeted not only by the servers but also the chefs) with minimalist, chic décor.  They have a large menu, and with a few suggestions from our server we were able to narrow down our order; we shared the Assorted Sashimi, Assorted Tempura, Gomae, Kaiso Salad, Steveston Roll, Spicy Tuna Roll, and the House Prawn Roll.

The Assorted Sashimi  – salmon, tuna, and hamachi (yellow tail tuna) – was gorgeously arranged and clean-tasting.  It’s nice to have all three fish together, as it gives you a better appreciation for their distinct flavours, textures, and colours.  The tuna, for example, is so much milder than the savoury, darker hamachi.

The tempura platter included prawns, onions, carrots, green beans, and thinly-sliced sweet potato.  It was fresh, light and crispy.  The Japanese do such a wonderful job of making battered and deep-fried vegetables seem good for you.

Though they look modest, the Gomae (sautéed spinach with peanut sauce) and the Kaiso (seaweed) Salad were my two favourite dishes.  The seaweed was finely julienned and marinated in a rice vinegar dressing, with the chewy/crunchy texture of a slightly undercooked rice noodle.  It tasted ever-so-slightly of the ocean, reaffirming my good fortune to be living next to the Pacific (whether it came from there or not!)  The spinach in the Gomae was tender but not over-cooked, and tossed with one of the best peanut sauces I’ve tasted.  I could easily eat it every day, like a worldly Popeye.

The House Prawn Roll (on the left) had prawn tempura, avocado, cucumber, tobiko, and mayo sauce.  It was good, though not spicy as the menu claimed it to be.  Our server did tell us it was more of a sweet spice, but I personally didn’t get any heat at all.  I loved the combination of prawns, mayo and crunchy tobiko (flying fish roe), however, and would still order it again.  While the Steveston Roll (centre) with sweet shrimp, salmon, tuna, cucumber, and salmon on top is definitely for salmon-lovers, it was a little too plain for me.  I’m beginning to realize just how much I love strong flavours.  My favourite of the three was the Spicy Tuna Roll (right).  Filled with tuna and cucumber, it was drizzled with a spicy, smoky sauce that made it a standout.

Ichiro isn’t cheap (our bill came to $71.06 for three), but it is a place to go for beautifully presented, fresh and refined flavours.  I recommend the Gomae, Kaiso Salad, and the Spicy Tuna Roll, and would certainly go back.

Look at me talking up seaweed!  I’ve come a long way since my mono and 14 year-old garbage can-self.

If you’re for a great food documentary to watch, I highly recommend Jiro Dreams of Sushi.  Perhaps eat at Ichiro first though, because if you’re a sushi lover, you do NOT want to watch this thing on an empty stomach.  Trust me.

 

 

27 Comments

  1. KimHo

    the Gomae (sautéed spinach with peanut sauce)

    Actually, goma-ae is a sesame dressing, not peanut sauce. Since a lot of people don’t know/care about the difference, a lot of restaurants nowadays use peanut sauce (or even downright to peanut butter) as a replacement.

    Next time you visit a sushi restaurant, may I suggest you focus somewhat in nigiri sushi? I like to say that, anybody can roll a maki (i.e., sushi roll); however, it takes a bit more skill to properly prepare the rice, mold it appropriately, as well as slice the topping.

    As for the restaurant itself, it is a bit of a good thing/bad thing you started with Ichiro. In a way, it sets standards high. I wonder what would happen when you visit one of the several AYCE sushi places in Richmond!

    Reply
  2. Janice

    Gorgeous photos today! Ichiro is one of our favourite places for a lunch or dinner out and I agree with you about the friendly staff there. We always feel welcome!

    Reply
  3. Robert

    I usually do not care for sushi, but this blog post and its luscious photos made me want to go to Ichiro and chow down. Lindsay, you are a sorceress.

    Reply
  4. Robyn

    Note to self: Don’t read this blog on an empty stomach before lunch!

    Ichiro’s one of my favourites in Richmond for sushi. I haven’t been there in a few years, but if you ever make your way back, try the Steveston agedashi tofu. This isn’t my photo, but it illustrates that this ain’t your average agedashi tofu! http://www.flickr.com/photos/55017688@N00/5955332257/

    Reply
  5. Doug

    Thanks for going to Ichiro. My wife and I have wanted to go for some time and now we have to. Great photos and it seems that you order what we would order.

    We have similar tastes .. hmmmm..

    You have been to places and tasted food we (wife and I)would order …

    Great job – keep it up !!

    dc

    Reply
  6. Angela

    If you love sashimi and authentic Japanese food, you MUST try Kiriri. Possibly the best Sushi in Vancouver, and definitely in Richmond. Extremely authentic. Fresh fish. Beautiful presentation and totally understated. You can’t go wrong with any sashimi or nigiri

    It’s located in a strip mall on Garden City and Blundell.

    Reply
  7. catherine

    Linds,
    The sushi photos are incredible! SO hungry now…

    Reply
  8. Stephen

    Thanks for the review! Kiriri is a good suggestion but is hardly the best for sashimi in Richmond. That would go to Sushi Hachi or Takifugu.

    Reply
  9. Sandra

    Great descriptions of the food!!! Looks good enough to take a trip to Richmond from Delta!!

    Reply
  10. groovygirl

    beautiful photos. Great post. I am craving sushi now!

    Reply
  11. groovygirl

    oh and good for you for giving blood. My next donation at the end of this month is my 48th donation. I hear that at 50 I get a letter from the Prime Minister. And 200 from the Queen. :)

    Reply
  12. Kathy

    I want to get in my car and drive directly to Ichiro Sushi. Your description and photos have me craving sushi, tempura and the salads!!!

    Reply
  13. are you gonna eat that

    Super happy you went to Ichiro. KimHo has a good point: it’s going to be hard to beat it. Please try to check out Sushi Hachi for their sashimi as one of the 365. Tip: reservation absolutely recommended. They have weird hours and limited seatings when they are open.

    Reply
  14. Amanda

    Love the photography in this one. You keep stepping it up each post. Kudos Lindsay.

    Reply
  15. Jen

    Sushi Hachi, on the corner of Cambie and Garden City, has the most authentic sushi I’ve had in Richmond!

    Reply
  16. ML

    You better try Village sushi! The prices are reasonable and the sushi is great!

    Reply
  17. LHSL

    Sakura Sushi at Cook & #3 Road – try the panko dynamite roll and the rice drink

    Reply
  18. Richmond Lover

    KimHo is always my favorite guy to read…
    Totally agree with him.

    #1. Yes, Gomae uses sesame dressing.
    #2. Yes you didn’t really try “sushi”….. you only tried rolls & sashimi.
    #3. Yes anybody can roll, but “sushi” nigiri, it takes more than at least 15yrs of training to do it. In Vancouver, you see so called “sushi chefs” who only knows how to make “rice balls” then put sashimi on top, but if you saw the “Jiro dreams of sushi”, you should know that there should be a big difference… A real sushi chef puts air pockets in rice balls so it nicely blends in your mouth with sashimi when you eat it.

    I know the best sushi chef in Richmond (who’s trained for more than 35 years), he even knows how many rice grains in his hand by holding it… he works at Guu in Aberdeen. Ask for Shunji, sit down on a sushi counter, and order “omakase”. You’ll be blown away.
    Don’t go on Monday or Tues as he has those days off. It’s not that expensive either. The best day to go is Thursdays.

    Trust me, I’m Japanese. ;)

    Reply
    • Lindsay365

      Shunji, I’m comin’ for you…..

      Reply
      • Richmond Lover

        BTW, “omakase” means “chef’s selection”.

        So you don’t order anything, and chef will serve you the best sushi of the day & appetizers for you (most items are probably not on the menu), and another great thing about Shunji’s “omakase” is he carefully creates a full course in a calculated proper order.

        He usually starts with a lighter dish, then climes up to bolder flavoured dishes, then he will change things up and give you a palate cleansing dish, and so on…. your tastebuds will go on a journey you have probably never experinced. Bon voyage!

        PS. This month he has Friday’s and Saturday evenings off. I recommend you visit him on Thursdays. Shunji’s last name is Yamamoto. Maybe it’s easier to ask for “a seat on the counter in front of Yamamoto san” when you make a reservation.

        Reply
  19. Dana

    Not that there’s anything wrong with eating your weight in sushi …
    (I ordered the “chef’s special platter” at a local sushi place once, and only after I ate it ALL did the waiter inform me that typically three people share it.)

    Reply
  20. Wylie

    I saw Jiro Dreams of Sushi and I had to really try hard not to call the restaurant and make a booking and THEN look at flights to Tokyo! It will definitely make you want to have great sushi and not the AYCE crapfests.

    Great post – Ichiro and Takeya (same group) are the usual sushi joints we go to.

    Reply
  21. priopsSuere

    Dogs, cats, hamsters, fish, parrots – who do you prefer? Or maybe what that exotic animals – snakes, crocodiles, lizards, monkeys?

    Reply
  22. Justin Baker

    Oh wow, they look delicious – makes me drool! I am fond of Japanese food and cuisine, and I hope that you can post more articles about them. I’ll stay tuned by bookmarking your blog. Thanks

    I just love the sushi with tiny, small, orange fish eggs – very delightful.

    Reply

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