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Ichiban restaurant review

Jennifer Choi finds a Frankenstein menu, boring food and hapless service at Ichiban

Published on November 17th 2010.

Ichiban restaurant review

I know Oriental restaurants in the UK. I know that many have a tendency to offer infinite variations of meats accompanied by generic sounding sauces. I know they prefer you to order by numbers. Typically what little effort that's been invested in descriptions result in a sad mix of the laughable and confusing.

Ichiban, with its neon lights, speedy service and Halal only provisions in a Rusholme site, seems to be aiming at the Asian diner who wants a change from order by number curries. However, it doesn't appreciate that poorly translated menus need to be addressed by robust staff knowledge and attentive service, neither of which I witnessed on the night.

This has never been a problem for me because they always had more sensible and authentic Chinese translations. And even for non-Chinese readers, in most restaurants in Manchester nowadays, staff are on hand to offer recommendations. That is, until I came to Ichiban.

With a Japanese name and a Japanese decor, I assumed Ichiban was a Japanese restaurant. Upon looking at the encyclopedic menu, I have no idea what it is. And after eating their food, I don't think that Ichiban knows either. Its pages boast of Malaysian and Japanese 'char-grilled specialities', but in the same breath, we see Vietnamese prawn crackers, Thai Tom Yum soup, Korean gyozas and Taiwanese chicken noodles. It's a Frankenstein of a menu and my head is spinning.

The Asian fusion concept is not new, and to an extent younger diners do like a myriad of possibilities. Tampopo pulls it off. Zouk does too. Ichiban doesn't.

They have a Chinese menu with its obvious target audience. I order a Szechuan water boiled fish (£7.50) from it but then turn my attentions to the mainstream offerings. We start with Taiwanese black pepper fillet steak rolls (£5.50), satay beef skewers (£3.80) and teriyaki chicken skewers (£3.60). We choose another main of Macau hot and spicy lamb with noodle soup (£7.80).

With eggs in baskets all across the continent, we hoped to find Ichiban's real culinary identity.

We failed.

The water boiled fish, a dish with wonderful depth of flavour when I reviewed it in La Mei Zi, hit our palates with brute force of chilies and Szechuan peppercorns. The fish was flaky, but beyond that, the dish was hot but there was little else to it.

The fillet steak rolls were nice but unremarkable. Spring and white onions were wrapped in crunchy fillets and slathered in peppery sauce - it was the only dish we wanted to finish.

Both skewers were OK, their sauces tasting suspiciously similar to supermarket packet mixes. The Macau lamb was tender and had a lot of heat, but like the water boiled fish, lacked any other flavour.

Ichiban, with its neon lights, speedy service and Halal only provisions in a Rusholme site, seems to be aiming at the Asian diner who wants a change from order by number curries. However, it doesn't appreciate that poorly translated menus need to be addressed by robust staff knowledge and attentive service, neither of which I witnessed on the night.

The place was near empty, and yet customers who came in knowing exactly what they want to order for takeaway got given menus anyway and told to sit and wait, others were made to sit at a small corner table by the ever changing neon lights, their annoyance unnoticed by the hapless staff. They studied the temporary menus as though cross-referencing a complex legal document and no assistance was offered. At four months old, these are no longer teething problems for Ichiban.

At the end of this altogether forgettable meal, Ichiban feels like a Cantonese takeaway masquerading as Japanese restaurant. I say this for the diners and the restaurant alike: Why bother?

Rating: 9/20
Breakdown: 5/10 food
2/5 service
2/5 ambience
Address: Ichiban Noodle Rice & Grill
17 - 19 Wilmslow Road
M14 5TB
0161 224 8111

Venues are rated against the best examples of their kind: fine dining against the best fine dining, cafes against the best cafes. Following on from this the scores represent: 1-5 saw your leg off and eat it, 6-9 get a DVD, 10-11 if you must, 12-13 if you’re passing,14-15 worth a trip,16-17 very good, 17-18 exceptional, 19 pure quality, 20 perfect. More than 20: Gordo gets carried away

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8 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

Joey TribbianiNovember 16th 2010.

Ichiban - Lipstick for men

AnonymousFebruary 11th 2011.

NOT JAPANESE Food!, false advertising. no sushi dishes etc. some starters were ok, some dishes were better than others. Soup starter was nice. Duck pancake was good but we ordered half a duck but was only given veg and pancakes that was sufficient for quarter duck. Some main courses had shriveled and dried out cucumbers as a garnish. The "Roast Chicken" dish was more breaded chicken strips and the service was very poor. We had to ask for cutlery and in between our starters and main course we waited at least 20 mins! We went to celebrate a birthday and brought along a surprise birthday cake. They did not even take the cake inside the kitchen, instead they left it on display on the counter behind our table! If service was better it may have made the food more appealing, there is certainly room for A LOT of improvement, more attentive staff and pictures of the food on the menus

Ming LamFebruary 22nd 2011.

I went to Ichiban on 21/02 and I had an enjoyable experience there. I was informed that they had recently got a new manager and executive head chef in so decided to try it out.

Staff were very helpful and friendly, they made some excellent recommendations for us which myself and my party.

Descriptions/pictures of the dishes were available in the menu so that gave us an indication of what they dishes would look like. Although the menu isnt extensive there is adequate choice available.

The recommendations that were made for us were:

Lamb ribs in Salt and pepper were succulent and moreish (this was a special request that the manager put in for us!).
The fillet steak rolls in black pepper sauce were tender and had depth to the black pepper sauce.
Lamb ramen in the shanghai chicken stock was a good choice made too. The lamb was marinated to perfection and melted in the mouth.
Malaysian spicy fried rice was very well made not too hot and not too mild.

Atmosphere was pleasant and overall we thoroughly enjoyed our visit there.

Bearing in mind Ichiban is not a huge restaurant but a establishment that is growing. There are bound to be a few things that are need improving on.

Don't hesistate to ask for recommendations on the menu, guaranteed you will enjoy them.

Compliments to the manager and executive head chef for turning the place around!

1 Response: Reply To This...
DanielAugust 13th 2011.

new manager? I dont think so .... Still the same one ....

DanielAugust 13th 2011.

The Staffs are illegal worker and unfriendly service. The director have messy relationship within the company. The food menu is not Japanese. The LED sign is so horrible. I don't like it overall. I won't visit again.

1 Response: Reply To This...
No NameDecember 13th 2011.

I agree. The food they sell is Chinese. How come the English are still ignorant when it comes to the differences between Japanese and Chinese food? Most of so called 'Japanese restaurants' in Manchester are run by Chinese. Kyotoya as well, though he claims to be Japanese (but if you are either Chinese or Japanese, you know the way they cook fish - see ManCon review- is not Japanese at all and is that of Chinese).

DanielAugust 13th 2011.

Ming Lam - R u friend with the owner? Hard sales ....
LED sign is like as Amsterdam Red Light District ..... Anyone agree?

Alix JacksonDecember 4th 2011.

Daniel,please learn English..

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