Written by Christine Mao
Photo by Alicia Alderete
A cool gust of air conditioning, the pleasant clatter of plates, and a lively atmosphere greets customers as they step through the glass doors of Icho Izakaya. Located in Temple City, this Japanese restaurant fuses traditional Japanese cuisine with Chinese dishes.
Upon entrance, customers are greeted by an attentive service staff at the podium. Beyond it lies the sushi bar where chefs can be seen wrapping assorted rolls, slicing the freshest ingredients, and drizzling sauce to add the final touch. The final result is an array of vivid colors and subtle flavors presented on a traditional Japanese plate or a bamboo sushi boat.
The lobster sashimi is one of the main highlights of the restaurant. This dish appears as a cluster of pinkish tinted meat placed on top a mound of ice, keeping it cool and fresh. This is then dipped in a mixture of wasabi and soy sauce, giving it an extra kick of flavor. Even without seasoning, the crisp crunch along with the cool sensation of the slightly sweet lobster is enough to satisfy your taste. Although the serving size may not seem so generous, if requested, the remainings of the lobster (tail, head, shell) can be served alongside the entree as lobster porridge, soup, or chow mein.
Icho Izakaya sets itself apart from competitors with its diverse menu. Instead of cramming its menu with Japanese dishes, the staff and chefs consider those who crave a fusion of cultural cuisines. Meat-lovers are free to choose anything from smoky barbeque to savory steaks, and Icho Izakaya does an excellent job of seasoning and maintaining the perfect tenderness so that each bite creates a lasting taste. For those hungry for Chinese food, there is a wide selection from Sichuan to Cantonese and Taiwanese style dishes.
Icho Izakaya’s intimate setting is undoubtedly one of the factors that enhance its customers’ experience. From the start, the gentle clinking of glasses and slightly dimmed lights provides the perfect amount of warmth for a meal. Light-hearted chatter and laughter surround you, and the blend of Japanese architecture and decorations provides a relaxing environment. Japanese styled private rooms are available for those who are hosting dinners and desire a more intimate dinner with their friends.
With Icho Izakaya’s fresh sushi and diverse menu, it serves as the perfect place for people willing to try different cuisines.