Ichiro Japanese

Restaurant: Ichiro Japanese
Cuisine: Japanese/Sushi/Sashimi
Last visited: July 18, 2011
Location: Richmond, BC (Steveston Village)
Address: 12011 2nd Ave
Price Range:

1: Poor 2: OK 3: Good 4: Very good 5: Excellent 6: Tres Excellent!!

Food: 5
Service: 2.5
Ambiance: 3
Overall: 4.5
Additional comments:

  • Japanese owned/operated
  • Authentic Japanese
  • Some fusion rolls
  • Extensive menu
  • Fresh sashimi
  • Sushi bar
  • Neighbourhood favourite
  • Popular to Japanese locals
  • Hidden gem
  • Moderately priced
  • Family friendly
  • Lunch/Dinner set meals
  • Free parking at rear
  • Accepts Interac/Visa
  • Mon-Sun Lunch 11:30am-2pm
  • Mon-Sun Dinner 5-10pm
  • Also own Takeya Sushi (more casual/cheaper)

**Recommendations: Oyako Don (Chicken & Egg on Rice), Dragon Roll, Nigiri, Sashimi, Saikyo Yaki, Dino Egg

It only opened in 2006, but you would think it’s one of those historical restaurants that have withstood the test of time in Steveston Village. It’s developed a loyal clientele of people who appreciate traditional Japanese food made with traditional Japanese techniques. It is a neighbourhood favourite, and although it may come off as “touristy”, it’s legit and I’d highly recommend it. It is a solid choice for Japanese food prepared by Japanese people in Richmond, BC. Mind you, non-Japanese people can make great sushi as well, but I just find it a rare case in the context of Richmond.

If I’m in Richmond and I’m looking for traditional, and not izakaya, I will likely go to Seto Sushi Japanese Restaurant or Kiriri Japanese Cuisine & Sushi Bar. I now have another option. Ichiro Japanese is slightly pricier, but they put a little bit more care and presentation into their food, and the atmosphere is nicer, so it’s justified.

They also opened Takeya Sushi, which is their more casual and affordable Japanese restaurant only offering rolls, sushi and a small selection of sashimi. I haven’t been there yet, but I hear great things, and I would hope the quality would be similar despite the difference in cost and ambiance.

Upon entrance and absorbing the crowd I couldn’t help but to think that it was a tourist trap, but there was a good mix of the Steveston born and raised diners including Japanese families and halfers. Yes, I am stereotyping, big time, but I think it’s a little natural to access the standards for authenticity of a restaurant by those dining in it. Nonetheless, the food spoke for itself and the skills of the Japanese chefs didn’t come unnoticed.

The menu is extensive and they offer everything from rolls, sushi, sashimi, rice, noodles, izakaya type dishes and robata. Although it is a traditional Japanese restaurant there is a fair share of fusion rolls and creative house specialties. Ichiro’s strength is in the rolls, sushi, sashimi and more traditional offerings, and it’s not an izakaya restaurant, but they don’t do a bad job with those items either.

For the size of the menu, I was surprised that all the items I ordered were upstanding. There wasn’t much hit and miss as everything delivered as promised. Although nothing blew me away as a “must try”, nothing was disappointing and I would make no complaints to come again. The ingredients are fresh, seasonal and good quality, and there’s a good sense of value if you consider the area and complete experience. Being so close to the water, a lot of their sashimi is extremely fresh as well, and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Ichiro especially if you’re in the area.

On the table:

Ebi Gyoza4/6

  • Pan fried prawn, pork, and vegetable dumpling $10.50
  • This is one of the house favourites and most popular items, so of course I had to try it.
  • They’re good, but I think they should offer 4 for $8.
  • It comes on a sizzling hot plate and they’re very fresh and obviously served very hot.
  • They could be crispier and leaving them on the hot plate didn’t do anything.
  • The value is in the ingredients and execution more so than the flavour, which is likely one you’re familiar with if you’re not a stranger to Japanese gyoza.

  • The inside is stuffed with a entire fresh prawn and home made gyoza pork stuffing with chives and it’s all wrapped around a thin home made dumpling skin.
  • The prawn was tender with a nice crunch and it was equal amount of both pork and prawn.
  • I found them very oily though, and they’re a bit bland without the sauce. The pork stuffing is seasoned, but the gyozas are just much better with the sauce.
  • It was a tangy, citrusy ponzu soy sauce with lots of aromatic sesame oil and a bit of chili oil for spice. It helped cut the grease a little and went perfect with the gyoza.
  • It’s not particularly amazing or unique, but the highlight is that they included the entire prawn and it made each gyoza worth it.

Steveston Roll4.5/6

  • Sweet shrimp, salmon, tuna, cucumber, wrapped with salmon $12.50
  • The roll is small, as it should be when prepared authentically, however I still find it quite pricey considering you won’t be full off of just this roll.
  • This was good, but not particularly interesting or different.
  • I see its value in its traditional preparation, well flavoured and moist rice, and extremely fresh sashimi used to make it.
  • The ingredients were all sliced julienne which made for a delicately textured roll.
  • Each ingredient was well portioned and I could taste each layer, except for the salmon sashimi which was a bit light in colour and hidden in flavour.
  • It almost came across as all tuna if it wasn’t for the smoked salmon placed on top to give it that salmon flavour.
  • I got the creaminess of the sweet shrimp, which I almost thought was scallop, and then a nice crunch from the crisp cucumber and saltier tobiko.
  • It was a good roll with fresh ingredients, but I probably wouldn’t order it again, although I enjoyed it.

**Dragon Roll 5.5/6

  • Imitation crab, asparagus, avocado, wrapped with BBQ eel $14.95
  • I saw this being prepared and there’s no way I could have left without ordering it.
  • They give you a generous amount of unagi and it’s possible to get full off this one roll, so I think it’s worth the price, unlike the Steveston Roll.
  • Since the “Dragon Roll” isn’t an authentic Japanese roll, everyone has their own version of it.
  • I’m used to my Dragon Rolls being a bit sweeter and saucier, but this is more traditional and simple in execution and definitely the most unagi I’ve ever gotten in one.
  • The antennae was made from deep fried soba noodles and the eyes were sunflower seeds.

  • The major winning factor of this Dragon Roll is that the unagi (eel) is placed on top of the roll, and not inside the roll. This is quality and value.
  • Many places will have the smoked salmon and avocado thinly sliced on top with the battered and deep fried unagi stuffed inside.
  • Instead, this one did offer crab which actually didn’t even taste artificial. It was a good quality artificial crab meat and it was juicy with barely any mayo. It was good!
  • The lack of sauce is the more traditional method of preparing it, so I didn’t mind since it was the style. On the other hand, I do like the sweet unagi glaze, so I like it when there is more of that.
  • The unagi (eel) was very thick, meaty, tender, yet firm, and definitely the most dominant flavour in the roll. It was fat like a steak.
  • I was hoping that the skin of the eel would be barbequed and crispy with a charcoal flavour, but instead it was thick and chewy. (I don’t think robata is really their specialty here.)
  • Overall the roll is excellent with flavourful and moist rice.
  • If this Dragon Roll had tobiko, a little bit more avocado, some smoked salmon, and a little more unagi sauce and a crispy skin, it would have been the best Dragon Roll ever.
  • It did need a little wasabi and soy sauce for dipping though, unlike the Dragon Roll at Octopus Garden, which is also excellent, but for different reasons.

**Sushi/Nigiri 5/6

  • Salmon (Sockeye Salmon) $2, Salmon Toro (Fatty Salmon Belly) $2.75, Hamachi (Yellowtail) $3, Tamago (Egg) $2
  • Considering the freshness of their sashimi and extensive selection, it’s a waste not to order nigiri here.
  • It’s simple and basic, and my appreciation for nigiri only grew in the last year. Once you have excellent nigiri, it no longer seems like the boring choice that fills you up on rice.
  • The sushi rice here is moist, sticky and a bit sweet with good vinegar and a good ratio to the sashimi, but I do like the flavour of it better at Kiriri Japanese Cuisine & Sushi Bar.

Salmon (Sockeye Salmon) Nigiri5/6

  • $2
  • The salmon quality was great, but not the best I’ve had it. It was fresh, and the cutting technique was good, but the flavour just didn’t taste as rich for some reason.
  • Each fish is different though, so it just depends on the fish that’s being cut that day.
  • I’d still order this again.

Salmon Toro (Fatty Salmon Belly) Nigiri 4/6

  • $2.75
  • For what it was, it was probably perfect here 5/6, but just in terms of what I thought of its flavour is a 3.5/6.
  • I prefer salmon belly cooked and I find it a cut that needs heat to showcase its flavour unlike tuna toro (tuna belly), which is better as sashimi.
  • This was actually my first time trying salmon toro sashimi, it’s very rare to have it on a menu, so I had to try this exotic specialty.
  • It’s not as juicy, rich or oily as tuna belly, and it’s firmer and more crunchy.
  • The cutting technique was brilliant and exposed its flavours, but overall tuna toro is better.
  • I did order tuna toro as well, but they ran out that day.

Hamachi (Yellowtail) Nigiri 3/6

  • $3
  • This was probably the most average the meal got.
  • I wasn’t a fan of the hamachi quality here and I found it a bit dull in flavour and a bit firm and chewy rather than creamy.
  • I’ve never really experienced hamachi of this texture and colour so it was unexpected and I didn’t prefer it.

**Tamago (Egg)5/6

  • $2
  • It’s my classic tamago. The true testament of a Japanese restaurant, and my must order item when I go for traditional Japanese food.
  • It was sweet, but not overly sweet, perfectly cooked, tender, soft, and moist, and well layered.
  • It could have been fluffier and juicer and I wanted to taste more dashi stock, but there was dashi in it, and it was still great.
  • For now. I will still stand by the tamago at Aki Japanese Restaurant – see here.

**Saikyo Yaki4.5/6

  • Marinated and grilled cod $13.50
  • It’s another one of my must order items when I’m at a Japanese restaurant. I love sable fish in general, but I especially like the Japanese method of preparing it.
  • This was slightly pricey, as it normally is, but they did a great job with it and the piece was a decent size.
  • It was incredibly well marinated and infused throughout with sake, Saikyo miso, and mirin.
  • It wasn’t as salty as simple miso paste and it didn’t overpower the natural flavours of the fish. It was slightly on the sweeter side because they used Saikyo miso and not just miso paste.
  • The fish was incredibly flaky, juicy, moist, slippery, silky smooth, buttery and oily with great texture and flavour.
  • Although the marinade was spot on, and the fish was delicious, the skin wasn’t crispy and I couldn’t taste any smokiness that’s supposed to come from the grilling (robata) process. Again, as I mentioned in the Dragon Roll, I don’t think robata is their specialty here.
  • The best version of this is still the Black Cod at Aki Japanese Restaurant – see here. Aki does specialize in robata, but the sashimi isn’t as great as Ichiro.

**Oyako Don Noodle Combo4.5/6

  • Chicken & Egg on Rice. Includes small noodle soup – udon or soba $10.95 (Lunch time, dine in only)
  • This wasn’t my order, but it’s a lunch time special and fair for the price.
  • The portion and quality is good and it’s made upon order.

  • **Oyako Don (Chicken & Egg on Rice) – 4.5/6
    • This is the most popular donburi you can order and I enjoyed it more than the soba noodles.
    • It’s a simple comfort food usually for kids and it’s basically a chicken and onion omelette served over rice with a sweet and savoury broth or sauce poured over top.
    • It’s not something I would usually order, but I had a few bites, and based on that, I would order it again. It was traditional and made well for what it is.

  • It had a fair amount of boneless skinless chicken thighs that were moist, juicy and tender.
  • I was hoping for a much thicker layer of egg though.
  • The egg was incredibly fluffy, soft, silky and creamy and made with a good amount of dashi, which is a home made Japanese stock.
  • It was savoury and a bit sweet with the caramelized soft onions and a good amount of savoury soy sauce to balance out that sweetness.
  • The flavour was good, and a bit teriyaki like, and the rice was moist and not soggy or too wet from the dashi broth.
  • I would have liked some green onions too, but this was fine.
  • I was hoping for premium quality Japanese rice, but it’s still fine here.

  • Soba (Thin Green Noodle Soup) – 2.5/6
    • It’s hard to find good soba noodles and these were just okay.
    • They were likely the dried kind as you can rarely find them home made.
    • It was served hot, but they were a bit overcooked and too soft.
    • The soup was savoury and spicy, but it was just your typical soba noodles in broth.

Zuke Rice Noodle Combon/a

  • Assorted sashimi with ginger soy sauce and rice. Includes small noodle soup – udon or soba $11.95 (Lunch time only)

  • Ichiro Zuken/a
    • Assorted sashimi marinated in ginger soy sauce (a la carte $7.50 and bigger portion)
    • I had a piece of salmon so I can’t speak for the whole thing, but the sauce was well balanced with ginger and soy sauce and perhaps a bit of citrusy ponzu sauce.
    • The sashimi was fresh and the pieces were cut quite small and most of it was salmon and tuna, and maybe a few scraps of ika (squid).

  • Udon n/a
    • I didn’t get to try the udon, but there were no complaints.

Doraemon2.5/6

  • Red bean paste in sponge cake tempura with fruit sauce and your choice of ice cream (mango, green tea, vanilla) $6.50
  • Any pastry deep fried and topped with ice cream is usually a friend of mine, except when there’s red bean… I’d rather have a waffle or custard filled pancake so I’m biased.

  • The pancake was one of those premade store bought prepackaged Japanese pancakes stuffed with red bean, so they’re not very fluffy although still soft.
  • The tempura batter was very crispy and light and I loved the texture it brought to the pancake. It wasn’t greasy or soggy either.
  • The red bean was pasty and not too sweet, but I just really don’t like red bean. The filling never got hot either.
  • The pancake is nothing special, but the highlight was having it made tempura and of course topped with ice cream.

**Dino Egg4.5/6

  • Crispy deep fried ice cream with fruit sauce $6.50
  • For deep fried ice cream this was an excellent version of it.
  • I have a feeling it might be those premade Mario’s Gelati gelato dessert bombs, but I’m not too sure.
  • It tasted like ice cream instead of gelato and the outside tasted like vanilla instead of coconut, but the inside was mango, just like Mario’s version. Whatever it was, it was deep fried and good though.
  • The outside was very crispy and crunchy with a thick cornflake batter that didn’t slip off the ice cream. The batter was good alone and the ice cream wasn’t melted.
  • Under the cornflake batter was another thin flour batter so it was almost extra crispy with a soft and thin donut like bread layer in between.
  • It’s served with whipped cream and raspberry jam and I’d probably order this again.

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17 Comments

  • Noelle says:

    I live in Steveston, and Ichiro is definitely one of my favorite restaurants! Takeya is really good as well, but lacking in ambience and presentation I find, but for the price that’s to be expected. Idk if you’ve been to Gudrun Tasting Room before, but if you’re in the area again you should definitely check it out!

  • Bow says:

    The Steveston roll does nothing for me, but I like the Dragon roll…the Ebi gyoza may be improved by a sauce because the original gyoza(from China) has pork fat; so a creamy sauce(my fav is yoghurt w. herbs, or orange rind and orange juice, etc. would add texture and taste to the prawn). ..no Ponzu, please, just mirin w. julienned ginger. I like the Ichiro Zuke…bring on the sake ! The Dino Egg is interesting, am tired of green tea ice cream. Am glad that Steveston has graduated from the tourist trap fish and chip places. Steveston’s got great pizza and BBQ, too.

  • Phanyxx says:

    I love the detail you go into when reviewing places. It’s interesting that you always order tamago at sushi restaurants. I love tamago, but I’ve never seen anyone else eating it.

    I agree with Bow — it seems like Steveston has more quality dining establishments recently.

  • Nancy Wu says:

    Everything you feature on your site is so amazing and on the money; my husband wasn’t kidding when he said you had great foodie tastes. (We love Suika!) So sorry we just missed you at the Foodists BBQ; hopefully I’ll be able to meet you in person soon enough! Thanks again for the great reviews & support images.

  • Mijune says:

    @Noelle – Nice!! I’m glad I found your favourite spot for Japanese! Yup that’s what I said about Takeya in my intro too! I still need to go though, now I’m even more excited to try it.

    Yes i have been to Gurun! Love the space! I can’t say I’m much of a meat and cheese kind of girl though.. just cause I find them hard to get full off of and then I always find if I can find a good supplier I can make prepare it at home.. BUT I do think Gudrun is very good! My post http://www.followmefoodie.com/2010/09/gudrun-tasting-room/

    I love Steveston!

    @Bow – ohh i love ponzu sauce! it helped cut the grease on the dumplings 🙂 it’s authentic style Japanese though so it’s hard to switch up recipes when they’re just sticking with traditional flavours and sauces. Yes! Steveston Pizza and now there’s Hog Shack! Great place for locals and tourists!

    @Phanyxx – lol thanks Nick! I just want to make sure I justify everything I say and then it just gets really long.

    Yes I ALWAYS order tamago and grilled sable fish at a Japanese restaurant. The tamago I order because it’s traditional to use the tamago to tell how good a Japanese restaurant is. As simple as it is, there’s a lot of technique that goes into making a perfect one. It’s like the “har gow” of dim sum! The sable fish I order.. cause I just really like it!

    For sure.. the place is just stepping it up and the older restaurants are even revamping! It’s great!

  • Mijune says:

    @Nancy Wu – Wow! Thank you so much for the wonderful comment!!! i’m so honoured!! You made me all tingly!! I’m so happy you and Joseph liked Suika and I think you guys would love Ichiro too! I know he has high standards for Japanese so I’m glad I found places that impress him! So sorry to have missed you at the BBQ too! I had a wedding that evening, but I do hope I meet or eat with you guys soon! Thank you for supporting this blog!

  • Linda says:

    mmm i love sushi! i’m so glad you like sushi too and you go to so many places i want to try lol

    everything here looks so beautifully crafted and i’m glad everything was made fresh and on the spot – there’s nothing worse than warm sashimi and cold rice dishes! the ebi gyoza looks so interesting and definitely something i’d try – i love how the tail sticks out!

    haha the dragon roll made me laugh with its whimsy decorations! i remember reading on your twitter that this was the most eel you’ve seen on a dragon roll and i totally agree! look at that piece of eel!!! this looks like the same amount you’d get from an unagi don 🙂

    the nigiri looks amazing! especially the salmon toro – i’ve always been a fan of tuna toro but i’ve never tried the salmon version before, it’s definitely on my list now 🙂

    i love that the ice cream dessert thing is called doraemon! he’s my fave!

  • Mijune says:

    @Linda – I love Japanese food!! yes salmon toro is so rare so I had to try it! but it is better cooked.. unlike tuna! So glad I’m hitting places you have interests in! I’ll end up saving you money I hope 🙂

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