Located at: 63/2 Ward Place, Colombo 07, Sri Lanka
Visited on: 02 September, 2022
Ichi Zen is one of the latest Japanese restaurants to hit the city. Opened in January 2022 and, according to their website, led by a chef with over twenty years of experience in Japanese cuisine, it’s a quiet spot located slightly off Ward Place. Their menu (available online) is quite comprehensive, with everything ranging from maki to uramaki, temaki, sashimi, nigiri, appetisers, salads, don buri, noodles, grilled dishes, crumbed/fried platters and bento boxes. So, we were keen to try the place out.
We started off with some Miso Soup (LKR 495). The broth itself was not bad and had the usual earthy miso flavour, but perhaps a little more seasoning would have allowed the tofu and seaweed to pick up a bit of the flavour, as they came across as slightly bland – possibly also because the soup wasn’t very hot when served.
The tempura prawn of the Ebi Fried Maki (LKR 1,260) was nice and crunchy. I was a bit apprehensive that the menu mentioned raw cabbage with the fried prawn (in the roll), rather than the more conventional avocado or cream cheese or even cucumber, but it came together well enough. Perhaps a drizzle of some sort of mayo dressing might have elevated the dish a bit.
Their Prawn Tempura with Wasabi Mayonnaise Temaki (LKR 930 per piece) was good. It was a great combination of crunchy tempura prawn, avocado, wasabi mayo, lettuce and sticky rice in seaweed wrap. Enjoyable and refreshing.
One of the main dishes we had was their Pork Yakisoba (other option – chicken) (LKR 1,820). This had a fair bit of veggies – beans, carrots, cabbage, onion, bok choy – and pork strips, and came garnished with a bit of pickled radish and a scallion flower. The noodle was nice and the dish had a pleasant flavour overall. A little extra seasoning might have highlighted the pork more, but this didn’t get in the way of enjoying the dish.
The Pork Katsu Don (other option – chicken) (LKR 1,980), I thought, was pretty good. The pork was well-seasoned and the crumb, too, tasted great. There was a fair bit of pork in the dish and the egg was also tasty. The onions and garlic had picked up the flavour from the sauce and were complementary to the dish. The rice was moist and flavourful. Again, the dish was garnished with a scallion flower and some chopped seaweed, which I thought gave it an interesting appeal, and was served with miso soup and a bit of pickled veggies on the side.
We inquired about dessert and were told that there were a few ice cream options – nothing specifically Japanese, apart from matcha ice cream. The restaurant manager was of the opinion that Japanese cuisine generally does not offer many dessert options and later put it down to the unavailability of specific ingredients with the current crisis and import bans. Perhaps Ichi Zen could do a little more research into this. The Japanese do have some enjoyable signature sweet treats and there are quite a few that can be done with basic ingredients. Japanese fluffy cheesecake, for one, is something that I prepare at home and absolutely love! And there are other simple options, too, such as Japanese roll cake (quite like Swiss rolls), mochi, taiyaki (Japanese cookies with a filling of your choice), dorayaki (red bean pancakes), purin (Japanese custard pudding), kasutera (Japanese honey sponge cake, or castella cake), Japanese souffle pancakes, Japanese mille crêpe cake, matcha/sesame/red bean cookies, etc. After all, a good dessert can make a good meal great.
Yummy Rating: 4.0 / 5.0