Every time I think about Japan I imagine eating in the streets of Tokyo or Osaka. I also think about that moment in Jiro Dreams of Sushi when Jiro Ono’s son goes to Tsukiji Market to buy fish, I go back to that moment because it captures the vibrant food scene of the country, the energetic, fast-paced life in a city thriving in the presence of the world’s best and greatest food. But mostly I think about finding myself in a market, slurping down a bowl of ramen, wolfing down sushi crafted by people who know how to do it best, and watching the whole art of Japanese cuisine unfold before my eyes. Unfortunately, Ichiba Japanese Market does not capture that feel, the experience it tries to bring pales in comparison to the run-down but more authentic experience of Little Tokyo in Makati.
When Ichiba was announced that it would be opening its door to hungry diners in the Resorts World I was excited to try it out as early as possible. Yesterday I finally got to try out Ichiba and it’s worth noting that the restaurant has a cool theme but its food isn’t exactly stellar.
Bloggers and food critics may have raved about Ichiba during its early days but clearly the quality has fallen. The restaurant has an undoubtedly good concept but it is the prices we were paying that made eating in Ichiba difficult to swallow. Apart from the prices, the quality of the sushi, tempura and gyoza were lackluster and the only saving grace was the katsudon that made the experience a little more worthwhile. At the very least, Ichiba could have amped up their experience and quality, matching it to the restaurants found in Little Tokyo. At the very least they could have given us that burst of flavor, that gustatory oomph that would make anyone’s day, that umami feeling everyone gets when they eat Japanese food. Instead we (Tricia, her sister Luisa, and me) were disappointed with sushi crumbling at the first sight of the dipping sauce, gyoza that lacked the signature crisp and packed flavors, and the tempura that had more flour than shrimp.
In the end and with a lot of regrets in between we should have gone off somewhere else where food is a lot of cheaper and the quality better than what we had just eaten. Maybe if I give Ichiba a few more months down the road and try something different in the future I would find myself enjoying it a little better, but for now, for all its concept and what-not I will put this restaurant at the “not to be visited any time soon” list.
Ichiba Japanese Market
2nd floor, Newport Mall
Resorts World Manila
Open everyday from 11am to 12 midnight