Heading towards "Deep South" (my husband's term for anything south of Kuebler) for a t-ball game last night, we had 30 minutes for dinner. "We'll just drive until something sounds good," I said. We've driven past Ramen Ichiban a thousand times, always thinking we should stop but we never have. Until last night.
As we walked through the door, the very friendly owner greeted us and my husband asked, "What's good?" He told us that most people are familiar with chicken teriyaki, but he really wanted one of us to try his Chicken Katsudon, the house specialty. I said I would try it and was asked if I wanted rice or noodles. After choosing rice, he asked if I wanted half and half. It's like he read my mind! Yes, yes I do. Hubby got the Spicy Beef with the noodles.
We sat down to wait as the owner and his wife (the only two employees) got promptly to work. Now, the decor is nothing to write home about, I'll be honest. It's a little run down and as evident by those who came in after us, this place seems to lend itself towards being a take-out place.
The Spicy Beef came out just a moment before my Chicken Katsudon and I reached over to snag a bite of the beef. Thin cut and tender as can be with a definite level of spice. My husband loved this dish, and as he wiped the sweat from his brow, would definitely order it again, maybe even asking for it to be even spicier!
My Chicken Katsudon came out and I was so pleased to see only white chicken meat. An egg was broken over the top and cooked. The chicken had a sweet and savory taste, which as we spoke to the owner/chef as we ate, we learned that was how real Japanese food should be, a combination of tastes. He also informed us that he was the only real Japanese restaurant in town (I can neither confirm nor deny this statement), that as a Japanese child growing up in a big family, they all shared responsibilities and that is where he learned to cook. The Chicken Katsudon that I was eating was the same as the one he ate as a child. It really was a delicious meal, different from anything else I have had in a teriyaki-style restaurant.
My one complaint as a bit of an environmentalist? The styrofoam plates and flimsy plastic forks (one of which broke as I was cutting my chicken). Without employees, I am sure washing dishes presents a challenge. But I wonder if there's another, more environmentally safe disposable product?
We'll definitely be returning to Ramen Ichiban next time we get a craving for teriyaki-style food. I definitely want to try the gyoza and I know my husband is wondering just how hot the spicy beef can get. I suggest you try something new and support this local business!
4845 Commercial St SE
Salem, OR 97302
Weekdays: 11am - 8pm, Saturday: 12pm - 8pm