I have to own up to it; I love both Japanese and Chinese food. I do have my favorite meals though, and I’m willing to try out different places in my search for great stuff. I’ve written here about Koto Restaurant on Erie Blvd and I’ve written about Secret Garden, also on Erie Blvd. Now it’s time to write about a Japanese restaurant much closer to home.

I actually like Ichiban Steakhouse a lot. It’s in Liverpool on Old Liverpool Road, and it was the first Japanese hibachi restaurant I’d ever gone to, when I was 20 years old. I have to admit that back then I wasn’t the greatest fan of the food, though it’s not their fault.

It took me quite a few years to get used to restaurant food in New York, which explains why I lost so much weight my first two years in college. None of it ever seemed like it was flavored enough for me and I couldn’t taste much of it; the “curse” of being raised by a woman who learned how to cook in the south. By the time I was 22 I was starting to get used to the food and the subtle flavorings.

Anyway, even though I couldn’t initially taste the food, I loved the performance at the Hibachi table, and that stuck with me for a long time. Therefore, I knew at some point I would give it another chance, and I’m really glad I did.

The thing Ichiban’s known for lately is that it has the first and, so far only, female Hibachi chef in the area. She’s good; I know this because the last couple of times I’ve been she’s been my chef. If you’re not used to Hibachi, this is where many people sit around a large stainless steel grill and they cook the food in front of you. They also do tricks and stuff and engage the people at the table as well; it’s a lot of fun.

They also cook a different kind of fried rice than what most people are used to. I can’t quite explain it, but it looks and tastes a lot different than what you’ll get at a Chinese restaurant, and what you’ll get at a Japanese restaurant if you sit in the restaurant area instead of a Hibachi table. It’s all quite good though. I have to admit that I like the salmon teriyaki meal at Koto better, but otherwise, I like the meal at Ichiban.

I’m not crazy about all the vegetables though, which is why whenever I go I go with my wife who gets almost all of them. And since they won’t cook salmon on the Hibachi table, I always get shrimp and either chicken or steak with it, but most of the time it’s the chicken.

It’s a treat, and I’ve never heard anyone say they didn’t have a good time there. That’s all I have.