Everybody deserves a second chance.
I realize it’s a passé notion in today’s society, what with our government’s utter disbelief that a person can actually be redeemed in prison and all. In the case of sushi restaurants, however, the idea of redemption should not be treated as an antiquated idea — for I have experienced it firsthand.
A few months ago, my friends and I went to Sushi Ichiban, a Port Hueneme institution for well over a decade. It was so crowded that we literally never got served. After waiting for close to 45 minutes and only receiving the customary pre-meal miso soup, we left, vowing never to return.
But, as I said, I believe in second chances and, considering how long Ichiban has been around, it certainly warranted another shot at satiating my hunger. Well, I’m pleased to report that, on this most recent trip, the service was prompt and efficient. The time differential between the soup and the reception of the rolls was only five minutes at most. So, right off the bat, the restaurant re-earned my respect. See how easy that is?
As for the food, that’s a slightly different story. Let me clarify immediately that it wasn’t bad; in my opinion, sushi is like pizza: Even when it’s bad, it’s still pretty good. But when using my professional sushi-consuming barometer — which is Sushi Marina in Ventura — it’s difficult for any other establishment to live up to those high standards.
Just to be sure — and because The Reporter pays the bill — I ordered four different rolls. Choosing sushi rolls is an exacting process, no matter the location. One must search deep inside oneself to decide what would make the best combination at that exact moment in time. Squid and smelt egg? River eel and yellow tail? Baby emu and zebra foot?
I started out with the standard California roll, the Jell-O of sushi (there’s always room for it). It’s hard to mess up a combination of crab, avocado and cucumber, and Ichiban certainly got it right.
On to the more exotic items, such as the octopus roll, which is basically a flavorful piece of rubber attached to a block of rice like a tourniquet. As one might expect, octopus has an odd, thick texture, but it goes down easy. Unfortunately, they only gave me two of these for around $4.
After that, I decided to take a chance with a roll whose name — to non-Japanese speakers, at least — gives absolutely no indication of what the thing is actually made of. Bad decision. Futomaki translates to “thick roll.” Indeed, it’s a fat-ass wheel containing bits of miscellaneous vegetables and pickled gourd, and highlighted by a sweetened egg.
The sweetness became more overwhelming as I tore through the four rolls, and threatened to leave me with that feeling of having eaten one too many packages of SweetTarts. To top everything off with a “safer” choice, I went with the salmon roll, which, much like the California Roll, someone would have to try to screw up.
To summarize, everything was good, not quite great, but a worthy use of The Reporter’s $20.
Here’s to second chances!