401 E 13th St (between 1st Ave and Ave A, East Village)
Fatty Kat Eats: Agedashi, Pork Yakiniku
I would have never known about Ichibantei if not for @iamdannykim. Unfortunately, this place isn't on anyone's heat map or foodie blog when it really should be. This place looks and feels a little ghetto, but the 2-person kitchen doesn't mess around. Plus, you don't find amazing Japanese soul food and reggae in one place very often; so when you do, you sit down and shut up!
My Calpico Soda was bomb diggity! This Japanese milk soda isn't so hard to come by if you know where to look. I think it's becoming increasingly popular in NYC. It's not so much milky as it is tannic (that slightly dry feeling you get after drinking tea), so give it a try.
We started with the Takowasa--raw Octopus with wasabi and scallions. This bowl of cold, gummy fish might be off putting for some, and it's certainly not for the faint of heart. Trust me though, it was delicious!
Best tofu ever. The Agedashi was crispy on the outside and super tender on the inside. It kind of reminded me of what a McD's chicken nugget tasted like as a kid. Unfortunately, it didn't come with a happy meal toy. I can't remember the last time I had a chicken nugget, but that's a good thing.
Deciding on an entree was impossible. There were so many seductive things, such as the Tonkatsu, Oyako Don, Maguro Steak and Ichibantei Steak. I settled on the Pork Yakiniku, which is Japanese code for amazing pork belly and caramelized onions. The entree also came with rice and shredded daikon to soak up the umami goodness.
My fellow fatty went straight for the Ramen, which is apparently a new addition to the menu. Danny comes here at least once a week so he knows what's up. In this case, just because there's no one lining up outside doesn't mean this ramen sucks. It's no Ippudo, but it certainly stacks up with some of the better ramen bowls in the city. The broth was oh so garlicky and creamy. Mmm!
There wasn't anything going on in terms of dessert, but we danced to some reggae before heading out. I'm convinced reggae music excites the appetite, because we were on an eating frenzy. Don't let the "Japanese" in Japanese soul food fool you. This stuff was heavy. It hit my fatty spot dead center!