Sushi Ichiban (Calgary) – I just can’t do 3 rounds anymore
When I was 16-17, me and I, D, sometimes T and B would go to Sushi Ichiban on MacLeod Trail in Calgary for eat All-you-can-eat sushi. The first time I was exposed to this concept was when I was 15. It blew my mind. Why on earth would anyone want to eat so much raw fish? More importantly, why on earth would anyone serve a delicacy in an all-you-can-eat manner? In my mind, it was like serving all you can eat escargot or caviar.
Well it turns out you kinda get what you pay for. The fish is thin. The rice is thick. The flavours are bland. The nori quality isn’t great. Generally… it is a fun thing to do but for sushi quality, you are better off going to places like Misato or Wa’s.
We used to be able to do 3 full rounds. First round had lots of tuna and salmon. Second round had some of the weirder stuff like the tamago, the masago, etc etc. By the third and final round, you were so full you couldn’t stand it anymore. One of your idiot friends by this point would have ordered 18 tunas for everyone to share or 18 of the nasty mayonnaise cayenne pepper scallop sushi. Those were the days.
I went back to Sushi Ichiban where I first experienced all-you-can-eat sushi , while on elective in Calgary. It was pretty much like I remembered it. It cost a bit more ($22.99 for Monday-Thursday,$25.99 on Friday-Sunday).
This is round one. Lots of tuna. Lots of salmon. More rice than fish overall. Tuna was still pretty frozen. They’ve always had that problem here. You need to let the tuna sit for a while to warm up to room temperature.
In the far boat you can see the outside roll which was reasonable. The tempura roll was bad. The assorted sushi roll was fairly similar to the outside roll. Generally, you get what you pay for. The sushi isn’t great but there is a lot of it. They cut corners on their materials but you still get a reasonable meal.
Tragically, we only made it to 2 rounds. Overall, I still like Sushi Ichiban. It is one of the better all-you-can-eat places. It is nostalgic for me, reminding me of my formative sushi years. But I’ve moved onto greater sushi. I’ll still come back here from time to time to eat my gut out and to hide undesirable sushi mistakes under the sushi boat, the tea pot and the light fixtures.
Update: February 17, 2012
Sushi Ichiban has expanded their dining room into the back so it is now much easier to find a seat without a reservation. They’ve also expanded their kitchen to include Shabu Shabu (basically hotpot). It isn’t quite the same as your usual hotpot as you don’t really get quite as much selection. It is relatively cheap for $20 including tax.
This is one order of beef. There are no other meat options, just thinly sliced beef. Nice marbling, good quality. They come out in these huge platters and you just order them one platter at a time. If you love beef and need a creatine load, this is definitely for you.
You take the raw beef and you boil it in a soup broth with other vegetables and noodles (like your usual hot pot). Again, there is very limited selection of vegetables (onion, cabbage, mushrooms, chinese cabbage) and limited selection of noodles (egg noodle and rice noodle) but for the price, it was very very good and satisfying!
While I think I’ve grown beyond eating all you can eat sushi… I am still not above all you can eat hotpot. We devoured 7 plates of beef between 5 people. It was sickening. I wouldn’t go to Sushi Ichiban for AYCE Sushi… but I will definitely come back again for AYCE Shabu Shabu.
Sushi Ichiban, 4002 MacLeod Trail, Calgary, 403-243-1000