Dinner Omakase at Sushi Ichi: A Pictorial Essay (& REVIEW)

Sushi Ichi, like so many other Southern Californian restaurants, seems unassuming on first visit. It occupies a fairly standard space in a typical mini-mall near the corner of California & Arroyo Parkway in Pasadena. Its neighbors cannot be more ubiquitous in the merchant landscape - a massage parlor, dry cleaner, tanning salon - you get the picture.

Upon entry, one is warmly greeted by the staff, with the faint music of a local radio station in the background. The décor looks to be from the school of Zo (West LA) - kempt, but wholly unremarkable.

“Omakase please”, I inform my server. The sushi bar seats about eight people (though I was the only one apparently showing any interest for the counter that night). Once seated at the bar, Chef Ichi-san smiles brightly as he greets me. He is friendly but otherwise a quiet chap, diligently plying his craft. A sign informs customers that at Sushi Ichi, the counter only serves omakase, and that reservations are recommended. Again, it appears that my visit fell upon a rather slow, mid-week evening, as I was one of only four total customers I saw that night. And that’s a shame, because the sushi at Sushi Ichi is really, really good.

The sake selection is brought forth. Listed are lots of solid, affordable (!) choices, and a few unfamiliar names as well. My affable server recommended an Otokoyama “Hiyaoroshi” sake, which they just received in a limited batch from Japan. At $10 a glass, it felt like a great choice: Sold. And, true to her word, the Hiyaoroshi was refreshing, with a slightly fruity finish.

Let’s start with the food! Itadakimasu!
Hotaru ika (firefly squid), with oroshi daikon (grated white radish): Great salty taste; perfect with my sake…

Amadai saikyo zuke (miso-marinated tilefish): An unusual fish to see in L.A.; the taste was delicate and (again), paired well with sake…

Time for some beer: Orion sounds swell.

Buri toro (wild yellowtail belly) & mirugai (geoduck clam): The buri toro was “rico, suave”, while the mirugai was so fresh and “crunchy”…

Suzuki usuzuruki (sea bass, thinly cut-style), served with shiso seeds: Suzuki I’ve had before, but shiso seeds?! That was a first for me. The seeds pack a ton of flavor, and really added to the extremely mild nature of the white fish…

Baigai (Japanese ivory shell): Gently steamed in its own shell. I thought this was good, but for some reason the liver (which I would have liked to try) was taken out of the preparation.

Kanpachi (amberjack) & tai (sea bream):

Uni (sea urchin roe), from Santa Barbara & chu-toro (medium fatty tuna belly) from Spain: In a bit of a lackluster year for sea urchin in general, Ichi-san’s uni was actually the best I’ve had so far this summer!

Sawara (Spanish mackerel) & hotategai (giant scallop):

Ika (squid) & kohada (gizzard shad): Isn’t that ika gorgeous?

Shigoku kaki (oysters), shucked and served with ponzu: Sinfully smooth and decadent!

Renkodai (yellowback sea bream): Hmmm - Another relatively rare (and yummy) fish makes an appearance. This is not your typical sushi-ya…

Ikura (salmon roe): The mouthfeel and very hard “pop” of these super salmon eggs were amazing.

Seared kamasu (baby barracuda) & anago (sea eel) served with sea salt:

Mentaiko (marinated cod roe) & seared kinmedai (golden eye snapper): Beautiful.

Saba (mackerel) & aoyagi clam: The aoyagi was at the height of its season - Truly tasty.

At this point, Ichi-san asked if I wanted more (meaning BONUS ROUNDS!!!) - Oh yeah.

Hirame (halibut) & seared sake (salmon): Doesn’t the salmon look like an autumn leaf?

Seared geso (squid legs) & engawa (halibut fin muscle): I’ve never had seared geso nigiri before - Yum!

Ankimo (monkfish liver) & madai (sea bream):

Sanma (mackerel pike) & hamachi suna-zuri (albacore belly):

Akami (lean tuna), from Spain: A bit cold(?), but the texture was quite good…

Watari kani temaki (blue crab handroll): Decent, but I’ve had better here in L.A…

Tamago (egg omelette):

Too full! No space for dessert (I’m not even sure of they serve any dessert)!!!

This was a tremendous omakase in a highly unlikely locale. Don’t let the “dressed down” vibe at Sushi Ichi fool you - The chef tells me he keeps over 40+ different type of neta on hand just in case shmucks with giant bellies (like me) walk through their door on any given night (my words, not his). A word about the shari - It was solid, and definitely did not distract at all from my meal.

Service was cordial and very good.

Price before tip (remember I went into bonus rounds AND had a glass of sake and a beer): $202.


Sushi Ichi
633 S. Arroyo Parkway
Pasadena, CA 91105


A few examples of some really nice knife work.

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What’s with the neta shari ratio? You almost have to do an up-skirt pic to even see the rice. Was it hard to put in your mouth? twss.

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Very nice. Am I right in thinking that it’s only the 9 pieces after the mackerel and clam that were bonuses? i.e the handroll and tamago would have ended the regular omakase as well? Subtracting those and drinks I’d hazard the regular omakase would be just below $100/head. That seems like a screaming deal for what you got.

how would you compare this place to sushi kimagure ike,
if you’ve been to ike?
in terms of quality and variety of fish, and value?


Nice report, appears dinner is a better option. My lunch experience a couple months ago was very lackluster.

One of the Mori itamae’s - Take had mentioned wanting to visit some time. He apparently runs into Ichi quite often at the fish market.

is this the same fucking joint that others hand mentioned a few months ago,or rather more than a few months ago in Pasadena that has good sushi along with sushi ike kamugere ???

how does it compare to a shunji or fucking mori ???

thanks man.

Kimagure is a better.

A different league, in my opinion.

Not to say Ichi is bad. Because it obviously isn’t. It’s fantastic. But just not as good as Kimagure.

But then you pay for the difference, as well.

To put it another way, Ichi is to Kimagure as Connie & Ted’s is to Providence


and Ichi is 200 fucking bones and it’s still just not that good ???

we’re talking Mori level from that price point.

kevin: I know it’s not your forte, man, but please, PLEASE read my original post again carefully. I explicitly said that I went into several BONUS rounds of nigiri, AND that $200 price included booze, too.


NSR was not too bad. True, Ichi-san tends to cut the neta a tad long, but there’s definitely enough shari underneath that to make the gestalt feel all right.

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When I was presented the aoyagi, Ichi-san said at that point he’d end my official omakase with tamago. but then I said I was still hungry, so I got 9 (NINE) MORE pieces after that, AND followed with a crab handroll and then my tamago.

So yeah, lots of bonus pieces (which I paid for).

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Ike is a small step up in terms of overall taste - The proportion of neta-to-shari is more traditional at Ike. Ike’s shari is also a tad higher in quality than Ichi. And of course the tako at Ike is wonderful (though not as exquisite as Zo’s in DTLA).

But, as ipse has already mentioned, I suppose that’s why the omakase at Ike costs a bit more than at Ichi.

just one beer and sake though right ???

still 200 bones for not so top tier is pretty expensive.

and I though the 25 pieces plus one beer form mori for 215 before tax and tip was super fucking expensive and that’ the top fucking game in town.


there ain’t much that’s within my fucking forte.

thanks to you fellows for the comparison.

it’s been a couple years or so, but i thought ike was a pretty reasonable omakase;
at least at the level we chose.
great fish, too. and a nice fella.

If you count you’ll see that there were something like 23 pieces before the 9 bonus pieces were added on. Elsewhere, and two years ago, someone else confirms that it was $100/head for 21-23 pieces:

Compare with $80 at Tsujita for 10 pieces at the lunch omakase.

the presentation on the seared salmon is really fantastic.

Thanks for the report.

100 a head two years ago would bring it in line with a Zo or Hikko at the time (though Hikko doles out two pieces per and doesn’t deal quite with that much variety).

I guess i’m just pretty fucking cranky.

for that price, i’ll stick with the tried and true mori/go smart/shunji, to build upon the triumpharate.

thanks man.

for the clarification, still expensive compared to the heavy hitters.

which is why it may have been emptier than a mori for instance.

Seafood prices have gone up significantly all over the world in just the past few years.