Disappointed by New 'Japanese' restaurant, Ichi in Kronberg, Germany, near Frankfurt
A foodie mentioned that a new Japanese restaurant had opened in Kronberg, a small hamlet in Taunus, just outside Frankfurt. My husband and I love Japanese food so we decided to drive up to the hills last night and give it a try. We tried it and we won't be going back or recommending it to anyone who enjoys real Japanese food.
What I liked:
The staff was very welcoming and friendly
Parking was easy to find
Place was mostly empty
They seem kid friendly (the only other patrons were a couple and child)
Now I have seen Kronberg at night
What I didn't like:
Their websites states they are a Japanese restaurant, but they are clearly a Korean/Japanese fusion place. Instead of hearing a single word in Japanese, I only heard Korean spoken by the staff as well as by the other table of guests- a Korean couple and their child.
Their menu is too long, covering sashimi, sushi, udon, soba, bento, ramen, Korean dishes, etc. For me, such a diverse and all-over-the-place menu raises a concerned. What is the specialty of the chef and what does he or she do well? My husband wanted to try the ramen, but the waiter regretfully replied that it wasn't available because they had no noodles. I suspect it mesns someone may have forgotten to run to the Asian market to purchae instant noodles. When I asked him what he recommended, he recommended the bento. My husband ordered the Bento with grilled salmon and I ordered the sashimi. We also ordered gyoza and wakame salad. My husband drank water and I drank a glass of Cremant Rose. I should have ordered a glass of bottled water; the Cremant was flat and tasteless. I drank only half of it.
The gyoza was not the typical Japanese gyoza that we have come to love and enjoy during our five years living and working in Japan. It tasted a bit watery and undercooked. Instead of being served with a simple sauce to highlight the gyoza, it was served with a highly spiced Korean dipping sauce of soy sauce and chilies. The sauce had more flavor than the gyoza, and that is not how I like my gyoza. The wakame salad was equally bland. It tasted like a wakame salad that you would purchase from a package in an Asian supermarket - lots of MSG (yuck!). After a few bites, that dish remained untouched.
My husband said his salmon was okay, but nothing special. My sashimi bento include three slices each of sake, maguro, and what looked like very dry red snapper. The sake was the freshest, followed by the tuna and then the red snapper. I ate all the salmon and tuna but after trying one piece of the red snapper, I left it alone. The rest of our bento box included veggie tempura (batter should have been thinner), a few pieces of meatballs and a piece of fried chicken (I didn't eat any of these), cucumber kimchi, Korean sprouts, a small ice-berg lettuce salad, miso soup, and a big bowl of overlooked rice. I ate a few pieces of the tempera, took a few bites of each of the other items to try it out for taste and then left the rest uneaten.
If I could give the restaurant feedback, I would recommend that they narrow down the menu to a few things that the chef could excel at- weather it is purely fresh fish, noodles or an interesting Korean/Japanese fusion. Given the small size of the dining room, a tiny little bar, and a good central location in Kronberg, it could easily be a great little neighborhood meeting place. However, until they edit and improve their food, this is one new restaurant that I will not bother visiting again or recommending to anyone who enjoys good food.
If you want decent Japanese, Sushimoto in Frankfurt is one of the better ones in the area. Their lunch menu is especially price-worthy and always satisfying. But sometimes you must reserve because they tend to be packed at lunch time. I have been turned away once when I dropped by for lunch and all the seats were taken. However, you could easily walk around the Konstablerwache area for a bit and return; at lunch their seats turn over quickly.
If you want decent Korean, Hankook in Sachsenhausen is one that I would recommend. Their BBQ meats and soups are very tasty and remind me of places in Seoul. For dinner, I would recommend reservations. They have always been packed when I have gone for dinner.