The Student Voice of Forest Hills Central

Ichiban: a Restaurant Brimming with Culture

March 16, 2016


There are hundreds of little glass figurines lined up in a organized row, trapped behind the glass of a cherry stained cabinet that resides right in front of the restrooms. The crystal menagerie consists of delicate glossy cats that mechanically lift their arms to wave and fragile twin fishes that are transparent and illuminated by nothing but the warm glow emitted from the ceiling lamps.  

You are instantly greeted by this unique statue collection the minute you round the corner in search of the bathroom at Ichiban, and you cannot help but linger in close proximity to it despite your full bladder, leisurely strolling past the display case, admiring the dainty beauty of the miniature models.  

These tiny glass figurines perfectly encapsulate the overall atmosphere that this Japanese steakhouse emanates; the elegant restaurant  manages to sprinkle little bits of extraordinary in with the ordinary, providing an evident juxtaposition that highlights the exquisite culture of Japan itself. The entrance to the establishment resembles a towering gate that serves as a boundary dividing the conventional from the marvelous, a gate that is protectively guarded on both sides by  grand statues. The minute you step through the protruding double-doors, you are welcomed by an ambience of traditional heritage emphasizing the customs of a eminent lifestyle. Your eyes hungrily devour the scattered sculptures that tattletale the history of a rich culture, immediately soaking in the large fish pond that is centered directly below an authentic wooden bridge. The pond is lined with multicolored pebbles and brimming with speckled Koi Carp, fish that are linked to the country’s national identity and symbolize both prosperity and luck.

You instantly feast your gaze upon the large granite tables that decorate the sitting room, ones that that are lined with a counter-top grills  and decorated with embellishing flowers simmering in ornamental vases. However, apart from the aesthetically pleasing atmosphere that Ichiban effortlessly manages to provide, the chefs further illustrate the beauty that lies within the typical traditions of Japan by demonstrating the complexities of preparing each unique dish, proving that executing each entree to perfection is undeniably an art. As the chef daringly throws each sharpened knife into the air with a propelling hand gesture and catches it single-handedly, there is a certain degree of both anticipation and intrigue. It is almost as if you are at the circus witnessing a front-row performance rather than dining on luxury Hibachi.

Besides first being offered an exemplary ginger salad that manages to transform an ordinary blend of lettuce into a phenomenal concoction comprised of  minced celery, a splash of peanut oil, and dash of light soy sauce, you are served a small bowl of something with a big taste: Hibachi soup. The chicken bouillon granules serves as a distinct contrast for the french fried onions and garlic cloves, providing a unified interfusion of sharp flavor. You are provided with authentic chopsticks and expected to grip the fragile soup bowl with both hands, delicately sipping out of  the side; this further contributes to the overall feeling that you are sitting with your legs crossed in a vast grassy field wearing a silk Kimono rather than seated at a large table in a distinguished restaurant. The main dish you order is accompanied by a heap of steaming vegetables composed of fresh stir-fry that balances out the fiery passion provided by the entree, allowing your taste buds a sudden opportunity to simmer down and savor the original blend of essences engendered.

The primary arguments developed against the notable steakhouse revolves around the expensive prices of each individual dish and the fact that you are typically squeezed in at a tabletop next to unfamiliar faces. I personally feel as if being seated next to other families ironically provides a certain sense of intimacy, encouraging you to bond with one another over your meals considering you both share a similar appreciation for a rich culture.

As for the prices, however, being suddenly transported into modern day Japan by simply stepping through the protruding double doors and over the wooden bridge is  invaluable. This restaurant  competently  reveals the intricate history of an entire nation over a time span of merely an hour; attempting to place a price on this esteemed experience rather than simply treasuring the distinct complexity provided by the meals ultimately does nothing but rob you off a great opportunity rather than rob you of the money in your pocket.

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