Restaurant: Amerikan Ichi Sushi
Address: 1234 Broadway in Placerville
Hours: Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
This is going to be a tough one, I can tell already. A cursory glance of the menu at Amerikan Ichi Sushi makes my head spin and my heart race. There are well over 100 items and I recognize — what — seven of them.
I’m in trouble, here, I reckon. As will no doubt become painfully obvious in a paragraph or two, I am a “sushi rookie” of the first degree.
If I think back far enough I can remember the very first sushi restaurant I ever saw. Although I cannot remember the name, I can vividly remember my amazement that there was a market large enough for, at that time anyway, such a niche food establishment.
I mean, come on. Raw fish and sticky rice wrapped in seaweed? “Who’s going to make that a staple of their diet?” I naively thought to myself at that time. I gave the sushi industry in North America a six month existence.
This was in 1993.
Fast forward 20 years and not only is the sushi industry still around but it is also not really a niche anymore but has become a desired destination for many a discerning diner.
I now consider myself a fan. When my friend suggested we go have lunch at Amerikan Ichi, a place I’ve heard much about but have never been to, I did not hesitate.
Amerikan Ichi has won the Mountain Democrat’s Reader’s Choice poll year in and year out for “Best Sushi,” so I was definitely overdue for a visit.
The first thing I notice is the décor is modern, with clean lines and cool colors.
The second is that my friend and I, along with just one other, are the only “grey hair’s” in the joint. The majority of the patrons are young, well dressed and coiffed early 20-something’s, and I have to remind myself that I am sitting in a restaurant in a strip mall on Broadway and not some hot new place located on 13th and J streets in Sacramento.
The third is that it is after 2 p.m., on a Monday and the place is packed. Luckily we found a table.
I order the ichiban roll that contains soft shell crab, tempura shrimp, spicy tuna, salmon, yellowtail and is topped with tobiko (fish roe).
My companion, once again, ventured out of his comfort zone (what a trooper) and ordered something from the “long roll” portion of the menu called the “ITO” that consisted of deep fried finger clams, crystal shrimp and spicy sauce.
Our dishes came impeccably plated, and as I fumbled with my chopsticks my companion dug into his ITO with abandon, making sure to top each piece of the roll with a little ginger and an ample amount of wasabi. He loved the dish, and finished every last bite.
My plate was a tad larger than his, but was just as delicious, and I finished all but one of the slices. The quality was extremely fresh and the presentation was impeccable.
I must add that the owner personally and rigorously trains the young chefs himself and only allows them on the line when he feels they are skilled enough to match his high standards.
There are so many choices on the menu which can be a little overwhelming, but my suggestion, novice or not, would be to go outside of your comfort zone every once in a while.
Variety is the spice of life, after all.
Amerikan Ichi is located at 1234 Broadway, Suite A in Placerville. The phone number is 530-621-2100 and the restaurant is open Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.