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Mar 22, 2012 10:47 AM

Sushi Ichi: Great addition to Pasadena

Having heard great reviews from ipsedixit and Tony C., especially Tony C.’s article about Sushi Ichi, I thought to try the place the next time it I was in Pasadena. After all, since when does Pasadena have great sushi? Well, since now.

I hit Ichi around 1:30 for a late lunch and asked for omakase. Ichi is a husband-and-wife team and I had a chance to talk with both of them. As a Westsider, my favorite sushi spots are Kiriko and Mori. In the South Bay where I work, I like Kanpachi.

Well whenever I’m in Pasadena, Sushi Ichi is it for me. The omakase consisted entirely of sushi, which is my preference. He asked if there was anything I didn’t want, and though I am a not big fan of most shellfish, I said “no”, but also asked that he include hamachi (farmed yellowtail) which is my favorite. He likes to use fish from Japan, several species which I had never had before. In seasoning some of his fishes, he likes to use mirin, lemon juice, Shiso and even a cucumber concoction which I found very refreshing. His fish-to-rice ratios favored the fish, which is great if you’re worried about carbs. He just loves making sushi and especially enjoys serving up unique and tasty dishes. He also said he is accommodating for vegetarians and other different requests. No sushi Nazi here. He and his wife are warm and wonderful hosts

Hamachi (yellowtail) had wonderful color and buttery texture, a sharp contrast to the subpar hamachi sashimi I had recently at Hide.

Sayori (Needlefish) was something I had never had before and enjoyed immensely.

Engawa (Halibut fins). A crunchy texture like a clam.

Tai (Seabream) Firm yet very tender. Tai usually seems

Kanpachi (Amberjack)

Aji (Spanish Mackeral) in mirin was my favorite of the day.

Kurodai (Black Seabream) Could not tell this apart from Tai.

Hotaru Ika (Squid)

Aoyagi (Orange Clam)

Kohada (Shad) baby sized. He used nearly the whole fish (sans head and tail) on each sushi.

Mirugai (geoduck clam)

Uni (Sea Urchin)

Marinated Maguro (Yellowfin Tuna) This was a nice surprise, as I sometimes grow tired of maguro. The marinade seemed to give it softer taste.

One more Roe dish, whose name I forgot, but enjoyed.

This came to about $100, truly an enjoyable experience. I normally don’t eat this much, but the experience was so enjoyable I just kept going.

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  1. Big fan of Ichi. That marinated maguro was one of the my fave dishes from a Japanese joints last year. They're doing everything right at Ichi. Plenty of hikari-mono, generous, but not gaudy cuts of fish, solid rice, nicest FOH (wife Yuko-san).

    And they were there before Ike brought Hollywood East. Ask Ichi-san if he'd do the squid noodles for you next time. This is SoPas's very own Kiyokawa, and JGold should visit since he's been so unwilling to drive after taking the LAT column.

    4 Replies
    1. re: TonyC

      Could you explain your Kiyokawa reference? I love Kiyokawa, especially the various cooked/kaiseki portions of the meal, but Ogawak's omakase is all sushi?

      1. re: andytseng

        We received cod, fried pompano bones, and soup during our omakase, but I didn't ask for any cooked dishes. If you see the various blogs (here's a decent entry: ) there are appearances by steamed uni, fried oysters, poached squid. The variety (for SPas) is rather impressive.

      2. re: TonyC

        Tony: would this be your #1 choice for sushi in the SGV?

        1. re: odub

          Yes. Partially because he agreed to mostly hikari mono & shiromi no sakana. As far the neta being oversauced, clearly it wasn't the case during my visit:
          2 people were given 2 pieces to share, so the pricing was way lower than the omakase at Shunji.

          Like "liu" enjoys King Hua partly due to environs, I enjoy Ichi. But I never "got" Ike while he was in H'wood, so...

      3. How much are the pieces if I were to do non-omakase and do they have any regular sushi dinner platters?

        1 Reply
        1. re: JBG89

          I had 15 servings of delicious sushi (2 pieces each) for $100. I never saw a menu, but the blog TonyC referred us to showed platters. It seemed very reasonable for what I ate.

        2. is there a website for this joint, and sorry but does anyone have the exact name for it?

          i heard it's only omakase style here, right???

          5 Replies
          1. re: kevin

            You're thinking of Sushi Kimagure which is nearby. Sushi Ichi is very accomodating for ala carte and the omakase seems flexible.

            1. re: Ogawak

              my mistake again, i confused this joint with yeah, sushi ike aka kimagure, with the famed octopus sushi.

              1. re: kevin

                That octopus is great at Kimagure. It's my fave octopus. He even converted my niece who asked not to have it. She practically finished the whole plate. Kimagure's not Sushi Zo, but I'd put it on par with Sasabune (I know there are detractors, but it's still great and Nobi still has the best Uni from Catalina next to Hiro-san's from San Diego).

                I need to go back to Ichi. He served the omakase two pieces each until we asked him to stop. Still not sure if he'd give me one piece if I was a single. A bit oversauced and not quite as refined as Kimagure as well as a tad pricey $50 per for lunch. We didn't have everything.

                1. re: revets2

                  Kimagure is the clear leader in the area. Ichi, a few notches below.

                  1. re: Sgee


                    But to be fair Ichi is also a few notches below in the price range.