For a good long time now, I’ve been wanting to get into writing real, legit restaurant reviews. Reviewing is coupled with one of my favorite pastimes, and that’s eating. Now, I’m aware that I’m simply a small town amateur, but I wouldn’t mind breaking into this scene. Not only to make myself feel more important when ordering dinner at a restaurant, but to have others read what I write in order to gauge whether or not they’d like to visit the venue I’ve written about.
As I began concocting this notion in my mind, I decided that doing a bit of research on how to write a review was in order. I think there’s the persistent temptation to simply write something like, “It was good. I’d go back,” so one of my battles is to avoid that. I don’t want to wimp out and I certainly don’t want to cheat the restaurant in any way whatsoever.
Today, my practice review is going to be on Ichiban Asian Bistro in Colchester, CT. This restaurant is somewhat close to where I currently live and it’s in an area I’m familiar with. Due to this, I feel like I can compare and contrast this restaurant with others I’ve visited. I’ve also created a working format of how I’d like to lay the review out, so all my reviews will be consistent with one another. If you have any suggestions that would make what I’m trying to do here better, please share in the comment section below.
Ichiban Asian Bistro is located at 179 Linwood Avenue in Colchester, CT. They are situated in a newer plaza in town with more than enough parking out front. When I visited this restaurant for takeout, it was at 9PM on a Sunday night, so other patrons were sparse. As a matter of fact, there was only one other car in the parking lot. Colchester isn’t a particularly crowded town to begin with, so there isn’t much of a concern for traffic, and driving at night on Linwood Avenue is even easier than any other time of day. The restaurant area looks safe and well lit.
I have to say, when compared to similar restaurants in Colchester, Hebron, Marlborough or Lebanon, Ichiban is probably one of the nicest I’ve been to. They are on par with establishments you’d see in Glastonbury, such as J. Gilbert’s and Max Fish. The restaurant is modern and extremely well decorated. Our next visit will be sure to bring photos of the inside. Bringing a camera in with me to pick up takeout would’ve felt extremely awkward.
As far as I could tell, there is no dress code at Ichiban. Although, I’m quite sure that if I decided to drop some bills to dine for dinner, I’d appreciate it if others weren’t wearing flip-flops, or even worse, Crocs. I do believe I read somewhere that they suggest “Smart Casual.”
I’ve actually been to Ichiban twice. Both times for takeout and both times I saw a wide variety of clientele. I think this restaurant really targets those who appreciate modern cuisine, such as myself, but I will tell you this – I did see locals from Colchester sitting at tables enjoying what they had to offer. Jeans and t-shirts weren’t rare, but it wouldn’t be absurd to see someone wearing something more upscale as well.
This is where we get into the nitty gritty of this review. The food. My report of the food is that it’s very good. There’s a generous sized menu and from what I’ve seen and tasted, they’ve got some skill in the kitchen. Last night’s dinner brought us Steamed Vegetable Dumplings ($4.95), Basil Shrimp ($11.95) and Pad Se-Lew Fresh with Shrimp ($8.95). While everything was very tasty, I’ll say that the dumplings were on the light side. I wouldn’t order them again because I felt as though I didn’t get my money’s worth. Also, there were supposed to be 6, but we only found 5. If they were larger and the amount there were supposed to be, I’d be happier. As far as the other two entrees, both were fine. Please remember, when looking at the photos below, this was takeout. Takeout never looks pretty, but it sure did taste good.
As I mentioned above, the menu is fairly large when compared to other similar restaurants. The sections include appetizers, soups, salads, sushi bar appetizers, sushi and sashimi a la carte, vegetarian roll or hand roll, special roll, roll or hand roll, tempura, teriyaki, hibachi, sushi entrees, chef’s special, vegetable entrees, thai curries, main entrees, lunch bento box, noodles, fried rice and vietnamese rice noodle bowl.
This is something I had to get used to when I began to order from a local Thai restaurant in Hebron. Things cost more than common Chinese takeout. But, you can definitely taste the difference in the more “crafted” food. Things are generally made with additional thought and the quantity isn’t as abundant as Chines takeout, but the difference lies in the fact that these somewhat upscale restaurants are just that – restaurants. You can’t get these items elsewhere. So, the bottom line is this: Be prepared to spend a little bit more and get a little bit less. You probably won’t put Thai restaurants and this particular Asian Bistro on your short list of Wednesday night takeout, but you may want to stop by every few weeks when the mood strikes.
Since I only visited Ichiban for takeout, I can’t comment on table service, but what I can comment on is what I observed in the restaurant. As I waited to be rung up, I took a quick look around and saw that all the wait staff was dressed well and had a skip in their step. I noticed that the bartender was working hard to keep his area clean and neat. No complaint here. Also, the cashier at the door was sharp and pleasant.
My overall review of Ichiban Asian Bistro is very positive. I really like it there and plan to stop by for a full dinner and to try out the Sushi. When I do, I’ll take more pictures and perhaps a video of the inside. Stay tuned.
Ichiban Asian Bistro LLC
Address: 179 Linwood Ave, Colchester, CT 06415
Phone: (860) 537-6888