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Miso Tasty: Muddy eats at Ichiki

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Just revisiting this, one of our first and most lush dining experiences since Muddy hit the Northants streets looking for the best and most interesting culinary adventures.  Of course, nothing stays the same, and in this case the restaurant formerly known as Suntory, is now trading under the name “Ichiki” – which is the Japanese word  for “One tree”.  That may well be the case, but this is still a Muddy favourite, and we’re hoping to go back to reacquaint ourselves with the brilliant team, and delicious food on offer this Autumn.  Read on dear Reader, read on…….

Muddy was in conflict.  Or rather Mr. Muddy was. Never one to turn down the prospect of excellent hospitality, but trying to stick to some healthy January living, could the promise of an Asian taste extravaganza at Ichiki really offer his waistline the fair deal that he’d promised himself at the start of the 2016? Apparently yes it could, without compromising on taste. Or booze.

It’s only been open a few months, but almost instantaneously, as we walked through the door into the warm, dimly lit, sandalwood scented, it felt established. I recalled my new best friend Jamie Oliver recently informing me (er, broadcasting to all of us via his Superfood TV programme) that life expectancy amongst Japanese women, is the highest in the world; a ripe old average of 87!!! I calibrated quickly and realised that the glass of ice cold Sauv Blanc I’d be imbibing alongside my new favourite food would probably set me back only a couple of seconds in the general scheme of things.  Well done me for such quick thinking.

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Truthfully, the food, and the restaurant were my ideal in lots of ways. It’s right in the centre of Northampton, but easy to park on the streets out of office hours. We went on a Sunday, and ditching the usual roast dinner for the taste sensations on offer from manager Ricky and his super friendly, helpful team was a lovely change. Of course, fresh fish, fresh meat and fresh vegetables are only half the deal. This food had substance and style, all served with a smile, and got me trying things I’ve previously poo-poohed (smoked eel, for one).

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We were treated as guests rather than just customers, and as the excellent (and generous) sushi and sashimi platter arrived, it was all I could do to remind Mr. Muddy to pace himself or else suffer the tragedy of not getting even close to the UK average life expectancy (this really was the starter, can you see I look a touch overwhelmed!!!).

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Thankfully the arrival of Saki served in an amazing square wooden vessel eradicated what had just passed, and I started to enjoy the evening even more.  Those Saki “cups” were awesome – the sweet strong taste of the spicy liquid enhanced by the all-pervasive smell of the wood.  It was a truly unique experience, whereas the Dad Jokes are regular visitors at our table.

Next arrived roasted miso rib-eye and vegetables on roasted hackberry leaves.  Am. Ay. Zing. It was all I could do not to eat his share, but with a bowl of hot, scrumptious noodles too, I managed to leave him a mouthful.

The team at Ichiki go the extra mile, creating an ambience and a group of food experiences that are quite unique.  It’s date night, but it’s also fun with the family, and there’s a diverse menu to suit most tastes (just don’t ask for chips and curry sauce)!  Mr Muddy says that he would have liked to eat more in that one visit, but he didn’t have “mushroom” left.  Sorry about that.  I won’t bring him next time. 

THE MUDDY VERDICT:

Good for: Romantic couples, business lunches and dinners, group get togethers. It’s located near cocktail bars Sazerac and Borjia, so especially good for the weekend crowd. Kid friendly too.

Not for: The hard core meat and two veg man. Ichiki isn’t just raw fish, but if you’re stuck on your chicken balls and sweet and sour sauce, this may be too adventurous for you.

£££: Mid range for very high quality. Starters £4.50-8.50; mains £9-18; more expensive for speciality dishes; set menu £17.80pp up to £35.80pp.

Ichiki, 23 Castilian Street, Northampton, NN1 1JS, 01604 233011

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