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I've long regarded Ichiban Boshi to be one of the better mass-market conveyor belt-style Japanese restaurant chains around, like Sushi Tei. However, with the closure of its Esplanade branch, which arguably was one of its better outlets, I've discovered that the quality of its food has definitely dropped a few notches.
I was at the Novena Square branch for a light bite, and it was quite the lackluster meal, with the sushi not being very fresh and the dishes tasting like they came out of a novice chef's kitchen. I couldn't understand how the restaurant was still bustling with business. Maybe the chefs were having an off day, or maybe their best chefs aren't posted to this outlet. In any case, the meal was utterly unsatisfactory.
In my view, Ichiban Boshi has relegated to becoming Sakae Sushi's competitor, which mostly caters to the not-very-fussy-about-food types, as opposed to Sushi Tei's more value-for-money quality Japanese fare. This is highly irregular, because Ichiban Boshi is associated with its pricier sister Kuriya, which serves really awesome Japanese cuisine.
1) Chuka Lidako Sushi ($2.10): seasoned mini octopus was rubbery and required a good amount of chewing to get through. This tasted a little stale as well.
2) Egg Mayo Inari ($3.90) wasn't half bad in comparison to the octopus sushi, the sushi rice was soft and sweet, the egg mayo was fresh, not too cloying and complemented the sweet beancurd skin wrapping
3) Crispy Spicy Tuna Mayo Maki ($2.10) : usually one of Ichiban Boshi's unique signatures, but today's version was disappointing, with the rice bed tasting like it was re-fried in tempura batter and texture being too mushy. We just scraped off the layer of tuna to eat
4) Chicken Katsu Toji ($10.90) - chicken cutlet with scrambled egg on a griddle plate: wasn't too bad, even if the chicken was a bit dry and tough. The eggs were still soft and fluffy and the light soy and onions sauce lent just the right amount of flavour
5) Dobinmushi ($7.90) - teapot soup made up of shrimp, chicken and vegetables in dashi stock: awful. The clear soup was way too saturated with the overpowering sweetness of prawns and to top it off, the prawn base didn't even taste fresh. I practically squeezed out the lime wedge and dunked the entire thing into the pot but its acidity still couldn't save the soup. I couldn't finish this