Sadly, ICHO is now closed.
However, very few impresses me to the point where I will say, it's an experience that I will speak highly of.
Dining way above ground is something I have always enjoyed, regardless of how awful the food in the airplane is, it's that altitude that gives me that kick. But dining on honest-to-goodness delicious food, be it on a high altitude or right here smack on the ground... it is going to be a memorable one for a pretty long time.
I think when you have no expectation about a restaurant and they just blew your socks off for being amazing, that's the kind of culinary experience one will say a pure treat.
Japanese food is not really something I crave for.. and I crave for a lot of different cuisines. When I had the chance to dine at ICHO's, I didn't know much about it but the mix reviews I read online (when it was still JAL Towers).
Not a pretty good start I say. I was preparing myself to be disappointed, I was hesitant, I was prejudicial to say the least. That is why I never read anyone's review when I go to a restaurant, whether I'll be dining as a paying guest or as a hosted guest. One way or another it will affect my outlook. In this case however, I was proven wrong.
Arriving at the familiar hotel of Radisson Royal Hotel brought me back to the time it was still JAL towers where we stayed for the night and had lunch at IndoThai. I remember almost everything from that day but mostly remember the feast we had, the special touches they have in the décor, the service, the beautiful orchid on the table we took a picture of.
I can still taste the dishes we shared, the Thai appetisers wrapped in banana leaves, the fall-off-the-bone beef, up to the sweet ending of tapioca pearls dessert and ice cream. See? It really isn't hard to remember delicious food, to think that I'm typing this post on my iPhone while waiting for a movie to start. Yup, I can't wait to write about ICHO that is all.
The staff might not think I had a blast because I'm normally extra composed when I'm super happy, just like how I'd be at an interview for a job I really really want. That's exactly how my demeanor was... my bad, because they have to read this to know I left on a high note that night. I must remember to let them know about this post. They deserve a huge thanks.
ICHO takes the 49th to the 51st floor of the hotel. The door opened to a décor that says we're at the right place. Minimalist beauty. Definitely less is more.
*I took couple of pictures of the bar and the sushi floor after our dinner. Sushi floor was already closing up while the bar just started to crowd up. Whichever level you choose, the panoramic view will be there to keep you wide-eye in amazement. (Click thumbnails to enlarge photos)
As we were seated to our part of the table, we couldn't help but admire the panoramic view Radisson Royal Hotel offers. Simply breathtaking.
While some of the chefs were already hard at work entertaining guests with flinging, banging, flying and tossing their turner spatulas. Eggs were also tossed around, some ending up on the Chef's hats, some getting purposely cracked on the teppanyaki table as part of a dish, like our yummy Japanese egg fried rice, we sat there patiently, drinking every drop of the show while our own dedicated Teppanyaki Chef awaits for what dish we want to feast on.
Teppanyaki floor has three stations, each can accommodate 20 guests. I can imagine a party being held at this place and how fabulous will that be? Alive and kicking, flames bursting, smoke rising, wondrous aroma wafting through the air, it would be a blast for sure!
My guest and I settled for ICHO set and asked for extra appetisers. A wise decision it seems.
Our appetisers consisted of tempura, beef tataki, crab salad and chicken nuggets.
Tempura was coated with a super light batter, crispy, fresh and uber-tasty. I cook a lot and experiment a lot in the kitchen and this kind of batter is something I just, just, just can't nail! At least I can trust ICHO to frustrate me even more now.
Next in line was something I have never eaten in my life. Beef tataki, any tataki for that matter. I didn't know whether I will like it or not. I didn't hate it, that's for sure, however, it will not be the first thing that will come to my head when order time comes. Beef tataki is no beef carpaccio (which I love so much). It was more ceviche-tasting.
Beef tataki is very lightly seared, almost super rare. It's sliced thinly like a sashimi and marinated with citrus-soy sauce. The one we ate was rolled and plated with a little bit of salad, a perfect mini version of the regular tataki versions.
Chicken nuggets, which I was kinda of dreading thinking it's going to be uneventful, boring and so junkfoodish turned out to be not so bad at all. It's thinner and smaller than the usual nuggets from a certain food chain starting with an M plus the usual ketchup was replaced with something bolder and with a good kick. It took us by surprise that my guest had to dive into her crab salad to take the spice off. As for me, I loved it.
The last piece of the puzzling yet pleasantly surprising start was the crab salad. Let's just say, I cannot stop thinking about its creamy and generous flavour. It doesn't hit you at first, it's simple and innocent looking then you'll realize you have enjoyed it more than you thought you will. Looking at the bowl that you're still scraping hoping you can still juice it a bit more. Deceitful looking salad, that's what it is.
The appetisers were well thought. Everything was in harmony, it's a happy tray. The spicy nuggets complemented by the cool crab salad while the neutral tempura was oomph-ed by the gorgeous beef tataki. The best part? it's just the first course!
But thinking about the way the appetisers were presented and how well executed each component was, the salad might be the intermission of each scene. A palate cleanser if you may. If that was the intention then hats off! It did give us a fresh tasting start.
I enjoyed the mushroom more than anything. The combination of butter and a little bit of soya sauce gave it that unadulterated meaty taste. Carrots gave us a little crunch, while the eggplant submits beautifully.
I get why potatoes were there, to give it a little starch but I felt that the fried garlic topping was unnecessary. Garlic has a very strong flavour that overpowers your palate once taken and so if the idea of the neutral starch is to keep the tastes in perspective, you'll lose it if you end up munching on those crunchy garlic bits.
Our mains consisted of Wagyu Beef Strips and Foie Gras with Garlic and Egg Fried Rice on the side. Sumptuous! Sumptuous! Sumptuous!
As some of you know by now, I love foie gras and I love steaks especially if it's Wagyu, combine them together? Hallelujah! Angels singing, rainbows shimmering, there's hope for this world kind of epiphany. Rich in texture, rich in flavour, rich in everything!
I couldn't ask for a better combination than those two. Hands down, they make it to my fave list.
It was a perfect ending to a glorious evening.
I cannot wait to treat my husband and kids as soon as I get my first paycheck. Yup, the corporate world is beckoning and as the tradition goes, splurge the damn first paycheck to pieces I must. What better way to do that than to have a wonderful dinner, way up there, on the 50th floor of Radisson Royal Hotel?
I will be filming alright, mostly my boys' delirious faces as they get sucked into the entertainment trance of Teppanyaki Chef's sorcery and witchcraft.
Thank you ICHO for the memorable time.