decent japanese at this chain outlet in the nex mall (though the novena square outlet fairs better). this place fairs fluctuates in standards – surpassing or losing out to the more consistent sushi tei chain; but when it’s good, it’s really quite a bit better.
though I do get cravings for sushi tei, and not this place – so I leave you to decide what that means.
I know many people consider these conveyor belt chains a little gauche and rather beneath them, but I like them. it’s amazing choice at rather good value, and even if service gets harried or absent, that rotating belt of food is more than enough to keep me occupied. and, the food’s pretty good too.
the menu here is extensive – but there are a couple of sure orders: mum will order one of their many (reasonably-priced) bento sets, dad and sis head for the aburi sushi, and I get either the grilled swordfish collar or the salmon head (the latter is more usually available than the first).
if you haven’t had the joy of having a large fish head for a meal, I suggest giving it a go (even if I probably haven’t put it nearly as graciously as I could have). barely any bones, smooth and moist meat – and the salmon has loads of squidgy collagen, if that’s your sort of thing. utterly brilliant with a squeeze of lemon and lots of soy-dampened grated radish.
while waiting for our mains, we always grab (more than) a couple of plates off the belt: the aburied-salmon-wrapped mentaiko rolls are a creamy, unctous mess enlivened by the little pop-py bits of roe, but my favourite are the (probably quite vulgar) no-rice excuses for sushi. slices of tamago sandwiching a thick slab of unagi, or atopped with crabmeat and cucumber, these – ashamedly – add to my enjoyment of this place.
it’s not artisanal tamago with an ephemeral sing of bonito and the fluff of warm layers, nor is it a charcoal-grilled eel lovingly brushed over a hot fire; it is sweet egg, mostly cold-ish, but very good in an almost junk-foody sort of way.
we visit the novena branch frequently, and fill our table with too much food – and it’s a great weeknight treat. just remember that this is a lower-mid-range place with cheap, fast, decent food, and you’ll do fine, too.
Ichiban Boshi (nex)
23 Serangoon Central
tel +65 6634 012
$$: dinner for four = about one-two-zero-ish
p.s. I forgot to mention that reservations aren’t taken, and long queues abound during proper mealtimes. queue early, or be prepared to wait!