I freaking love sushi. If I could eat it every day, I most definitely would. Fortunately, here in Charleston, we have a couple awesome places where we can get it! My personal favorite would have to be Ichiban Pan-Asian Cuisine on Capitol Street in downtown. Sushi Chef Evan Wilson never fails to impress me with his skill, the freshness of the fish, and just the overall beauty of the food he makes. So, when I walked in one Friday night with my friend Duane and sat down at the bar, I knew I was in for a good time.
Greeted by friendly and welcoming staff, we bypassed the general dining area and headed up to the Chef’s bar, where we chatted with Evan and watched while he filled out sushi orders with both speed and style. Evan started out by laughing when we looked at the menus, told us to put them down, and instead asked us what kind of fish we liked. This is my favorite way to eat sushi – just give up all control and let the master work – especially when Evan is making it.
I love salmon and Duane loves tuna. Evan nodded his head knowingly and got to work. A short while later, a beautiful variety platter sat in front of us and I took as many pictures as I could before no longer being able to resist eating. We had Maguro (Tuna) (Fun fact: I had no idea that Bluefin Tuna can grow to be up to 800 lbs and 15 ft long. That’s crazy!!!), Hamachi (Yellowtail), Shake (Salmon), Shime-Saba (Mackerel), Amaebi (sweet Shrimp), and Otoro (Tuna belly). Bliss.
Right away, we were told to save the Otoro for last. For those of you who don’t know, Otoro is the best part of the Bluefin Tuna – the fatty underbelly. “Otoro is an abbreviation of the Japanese “Toro-keru,” which literally means “melting on the tongue,” and that’s exactly what it did. It’s times like these when I sit back, smile, and say to myself, “Damn, I love my job.” It was seaweed-wrapped heaven.
I also had a first experience at Ichiban on that Friday night: I ate an entire shrimp. Brains and all. I’ve definitely eaten shrimp in as many of its forms as possible, but I was surprised when Evan suggested I eat the whole thing, “at least, up until the eyes,” or so I was told. So crunchy, full of flavor, and just downright awesome.
Washing the whole meal down with some Kombara Sake called “Bride of the Fox,” we sat back full, happy, and content. If you ever have any doubt as to where you should go get the best sushi possible, don’t hesitate. Just go to Ichiban. You won’t regret it!