Ippai - Probably the worst Japanese meal I had in Toronto!
I just had one of the worst, if not the worst, Japanese meal ever in Toronto! The place is a self proclaimed 'Japanese Fusion' restaurant called 'Ippai', at the corner of Woodbine and Applecreek in Markham.
The horror story began two weeks ago when I tagged along to my wife's weekly family dinner at the above captioned place. ( owner is friend of a friend of my sister-in-law ). Every one present raved about their ramen, so I decided to have a bowl of Tonkatsu, but settling for whole wheat soba instead. Every thing in that bowl of noodle was bland and tasteless, ranging from the meat to the soup ( except for the canned sweet corn which they cannot sabotage! Ha! ). However, worst of all was that they totally overcooked my noodles! What a gross experience trying to finish up a mushy bowl of carbs in order to fill up my starving stomach and pretending it was good!!
Today, the horror story continues when I heard that the 'family' decided to hold their gathering there once again!! As one who did not want to rock the boat, I simply tagged along in silence!
This time, I decided to play safe ( what a joke! ) and ordered a simple bowl of Chirashi with a side order of bontan shrimps. Man!! I should have take a look at the sushi bar first before making my hasty decision. Why? because the sushi chef has long hair but wearing no head band and spoke Cantonese!! When my bowl arrived, I have never seen fish sliced so thin in my life!! The bowl contained the following 'dull looking and lack luster' pieces of fish/seafood. One ULTRA-THIN slice each of salmon, white tuna, tuna, talapia, tako, surf clam, fake crab, ebi and the usual tamago. How thin? One could see through it!! None of the seafood/fish tasted fresh! In fact the octopus actually tasted stale!! As for the rice. It was over-seasoned with rice vinegar, not enough Mirin used, resulting in? You got it! one SOUR end product! As for the Bontan shrimps, they took over 20 minutes to arrive! Obviously, the result of the kitchen trying to defrost them under running water! The taste and texture was nothing like bontan shrimp and the kitchen omitted to fry the heads! A no! no! $8 for 2 pieces of $@#$$^!! What a joke again!
As an aside, one of my niece ordered a bowl of soya based ramen with additional broccoli topping. Not surprising, they totally forgot about the topping too!. So, towards the end, my niece informed the waitress not to charge her for the broccoli because of the ommission by the kitchen. Guess what her response was?! 'The system will not allow her to delete the additional broccoli charge from the bill'! Instead, even though my niece had finished her noodles, the waitress brought out four pieces of 'boiled broccoli' in a bowl, gave them to her and kept the $2 on the bill!! Broccoli for dessert?!
Although everything was BAD, there was however one stand out dish. A Japanese chicken fried rice which they fried with butter instead of oil. The end result was very aromatic and surprisingly tasty, but exceedingly greasy!
.However, I doubt a statistic of 1 good and 15 bad dishes is enough to justify a revisit on my part. Family pressure or not?!!!
Sorry Charles, I should have warned you! I tried this place when it opened and had a similar experience. I actually had Chirashi as well and even back then it was horrible. I could even excuse thin fish if it was actually tasty and fresh, but this place was worse than many of the AYCE places!
If they would learn a lesson they wouldn't have gone back the second time. It's amazing what non-Chowhounders would consider a "good" restaurant, especially if there is a connection with the owner.
But I must say Charles is brave for ordering botan shrimp at a Cantonese speaking restaurant!