New Ichiban |Ichiban is one of the few hibachi restaurants in Huntsville. It is located in the Publix shopping center at the corner of Whitesburg Drive and Airport Road. We arrived at the restaurant around 11:30 AM, hoping to avoid the lunch rush. That turned out to be an invalid concern as the restaurant never filled up. Only a handful of people came in after us for the hour we were there. The wait staff was polite but none of them seemed very friendly, especially our chef, who only spoke to us when absolutely necessary. We were a little disappointed in the experience, but the food and health rating were decent. Our lunches ranged from $12-$15.
Hibachi Clear Soup comes as an option as your appetizer with the hibachi meals at Ichiban. You can opt for either soup or salad as your first course for lunch. The salad offered at Ichiban is a crisp Iceberg lettuce salad with peanut dressing. The clear soup served had mushrooms, scallions, and French fried onions in it, but otherwise it was simply clear broth. It was a nice way to begin our meal since we were all very hungry when we arrived at the restaurant.
If there was one place in which I could never abide, it would be a world without the hibachi grill. If you ask me, that 10 feet square of perfectly rust-free stainless steel might as well of been made out of 24 karat gold.
WHAT HE ATE:
Hibachi Chicken and Shrimp, Fried Rice, and Vegetables
Today, I ordered chicken and shrimp, that soup that’s clear but tastes like good meat, a side of noodles, and extra extra soyed-up rice, double-crispied. Double yum-yum sauce. It’s honestly a little hard to put into words how good it is. The shrimp was cooked to perfection. Jimmy, our chef, was so focused on his preparation of the food, he barely said a word to us the whole time. Well, Jimmy… my friend… no need. The work of your hands speaks volumes. To you sir, I tip my hat. Thank you.
My experience with hibachi restaurants is somewhat limited – this visit was only my third time every experiencing a hibachi grill. However, the first two times I had been were far superior to this visit. Our chef was very underwhelming and not talkative or engaging in the least. It was a very disappointing experience as we usually love interacting with our servers and chefs any place we go. Hopefully this bad experience with our chef was not the norm for Ichiban and the chefs are usually more friendly.
WHAT SHE ATE:
Hibachi Chicken and Steak, Fried Rice, and Vegetables
The food itself was cooked well and was flavorful. I ordered hibachi chicken and steak, and, although the presentation and delivery were lacking (due to the disinterested chef), I mostly enjoyed the flavors of the meal otherwise. The steak tasted like it might have been a little old but everything else was good. I don’t see myself going back to Ichiban any time soon because I think you can probably find better hibachi grills elsewhere in Huntsville or Madison.
Hibachi was on everyone’s mind this week, so we went a little ways down the road to Ichiban. I’d never been to Ichiban until today, but I have been to places such as Sakura, Benihana, Shogun, and many more. Most of these places have similar routines in the way the food is prepared, so the flavor is usually the only differing factor. Today since we ate lunch at Ichiban, I was not sure how the experience would be, as I had only been to hibachi restaurants at dinner time in the past. The chef really only did one trick towards the beginning and wasn’t very engaging. All of our interaction with the chef was also extremely awkward because he wasn’t talkative.
WHAT HE ATE:
Hibachi Steak and Shrimp, Fried Rice, and Vegetables
The fried rice tasted great, but I have yet to go to a hibachi restaurant and not like the rice. It’s hard to go wrong with fried rice fresh off of the grill. The steak was cooked medium in a combination of teryaki and soy sauce. It was just alright. I’m not sure what it was lacking compared to the other places I’ve been, I feel like it may have been the quality of the meat or amount of seasoning. The shrimp I got was actually probably some of the best hibachi shrimp I’ve had. It had a teryiaki glaze of sorts and was cooked perfectly. I usually don’t eat the vegetables that come with my meal, except for the broccoli and mushrooms, so I can only speak for those. The broccoli didn’t seem to be cooked quite enough – it was somewhere between sauteed and uncooked. The mushrooms had plenty of salt and flavoring, which was good, because I have encountered that issue at restaurants before. As far as how they were cooked, they were about the same as the broccoli. I’m not sure that I would go back, because part of what you pay for is the experience, and it wasn’t nearly as engaging as some other hibachi places I’ve been.
I have always loved coming to Ichiban and tasting the meals they cook up. I love the inside of the restaurant, Japanese style decor, and dim lighting throughout. There are murals here and there in the restaurant that are pretty to look at as well. I feel like the Hibachi Chef was having an off day as he was a little hesitant to interact with us, and I feel like the other chefs I’ve had in the past were much more personable. He did do some fancy tricks with an egg, but other than that, he did not seem to want to interact.
WHAT SHE ATE:
Gluten-Free Hibachi Shrimp, Fried Rice, and Vegetables
As far as the food: Since May of 2019 I have been gluten-free and I was wondering if they would be able to accommodate my gluten sensitivity with gluten-free soy sauce (as many types of soy sauce will have wheat in them). And they did! I was pretty excited about that, since I had been here before I was gluten-free and wanted to eat there still. They cooked my food separately from the other food, thus keeping my food safe from the gluten. I had shrimp and fried rice with a mix of veggies. The vegetables were a little undercooked but I still really enjoyed the flavor of them and the rice and shrimp were delicious and cooked to perfection.