ADDRESS: 660 Plainsboro Road, Suite #6, Plainsboro Township, NJ 08536
During last month when Hurricane Irma was bearing down on the state of Florida, I flew up north to see my parents in NJ while the hurricane passed through my area. During my stay, they said that they wanted to take me to a new all-you-can-eat sushi restaurant called Ichiban Sushi, which they had discovered only a few storefronts down from where they normally get their haircuts.
The very first time that I was introduced to the concept of made-to-order, all-you-can-eat sushi was when a friend took me up to Sushi Palace in Edison back in 2011. I’m a big fan of the made-to-order aspect, since at other sushi buffets, you don’t know how long a roll has been sitting there before you take some pieces. At Ichiban, you get two menus that you use to place your orders: one for the sushi chefs and one for the kitchen. We could order as much as we’d like, but we had to make sure we would finish the food. Luckily, eating at Sushi Palace had given us plenty of practice.
The dining area was a large open space, with a variety of booths and four-person tables scattered around. The sushi bar was along the back wall of the restaurant, with two private party rooms off to the side as well. The whole area was fairly well lit, with a mix between conventional lighting in the center of the room and purple-colored lighting closer to the walls. While a lot of the design aspects gave me a contemporary feel, some of the colored lighting just felt a little out of place to me. But overall, I didn’t find that aspect to be too distracting.
We’ve typically used the kitchen menu to order a few appetizers, like tempura, edamame, or seaweed salad, before moving on to the main attraction. On the sushi menu, outside of the typical sashimi or standard maki rolls, Ichiban has a robust 15 special rolls that you could choose from as well. In total, we still ordered a hefty amount of sushi, with 5 different special rolls, several handrolls, and almost 50 (!) pieces of sashimi. At these all-you-can-eat places, I’ve now gotten used to the “shock factor” that comes when they drop a giant square plate loaded up with sushi in front of you.
Overall, I thought that the quality of the sushi was pretty good. The fish tasted fresh, and there was a diverse number of ingredient combinations between the special rolls that provided a variety of flavor profiles. The combinations were driven mostly by different pairings of fish (e.g. salmon on the inside, tuna on the outside) and not necessarily by different garnishes on top, like fish roe or lobster / crab salad. It’s for that reason I think no one roll really separated itself from the others in terms of uniqueness. But I thought that each special roll still tasted pretty good, and for all-you-can-eat, that can’t be beat.
Ichiban Sushi is a good spot to go to if you’re looking to get rid of your sushi cravings for a little while and totally stuff your face. I definitely left feeling very full afterwards, working to do my part in getting our money’s worth of sushi. If you’ve been on the lookout for a new made-to-order, all-you-can-eat sushi spot, look no further and give Ichiban a try.
Let’s now take a look at the Ichiban Sushi Dish Spotlight. Asterisks (*) below mark my recommended sushi rolls.
** Rainbow Roll (pictured center) **
California Roll topped with salmon, tuna, white fish, and avocado.
** Dragon Roll (pictured center left) **
Eel and cucumber on the inside, topped with avocado and eel sauce.
** Cowboy Roll (pictured center right) **
Shrimp tempura and crab stick on the inside, topped with spicy salmon and special sauce.
** Yummy Maki (pictured bottom left) **
Shrimp tempura, cucumber, eel, and avocado in the inside, topped with eel sauce.
Soft Shell Crab Roll (pictured bottom middle)
Soft shell crab with cucumber and avocado, topped with eel sauce.
And finally, here are my rankings for Ichiban Sushi:
Food: 4.25 / 5
Fish was fresh and food quality overall was pretty good. Between the sushi and kitchen menus there were plenty of food item choices to select from, depending on what you were in the mood for.
Atmosphere: 3.75 / 5
Dark furniture elements (mahogany wood, black leather booths) combined with bright artificial & ambient lighting didn’t seem to jive well, to me. To compliment the contemporary look, I think that a dimmer light level and no colored lights would help it blend together better.
Service: 4.25 / 5
The waitresses were very attentive to us, coming back to take any new orders or refill our drinks. (Granted, we were only one of probably a handful of tables that were there at the restaurant.) Turn-around from the sushi chefs was pretty good too, with our food arriving in a timely fashion.
Price: 4.5 / 5
Ichiban’s all-you-can-eat price is $22.95 / person during the weekends, which seems to sit right around the average from what I’ve seen. For that price, you could get probably two premium sushi rolls at an ordinary Japanese restaurant, so eat any more than that and you’ve made back your money already.