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 September 1, 1999

Tokyo native brings Japanese fare to Longmont

It’s a little bit of Japan in, of all places, Longmont.

Ichi Ban, on Highway 119 just east of Hover Street, is much like a restaurant you would find in Japan, says Owner Shigetoshi Abe.

A Japanese restaurant might have tempura on the menu, but “not like in America,” not so greasy, says Abe , 55, a native of a northern suburb of Tokyo. The Japanese are also are not as crazy about teriyaki as Americans are, he says, although Ichi Ban does serve both teriyaki chicken and beef dishes.

In Japan, of course, there would be more seafood, but Abe is impressed with the quality of fish he can get in Longmont. He offers tuna, salmon, whitefish, shrimp, octopus, eel and mackerel sushi, as well as tuna roll, salmon roll, California roll, cucumber roll and sashimi.

Ichi Ban, says Abe, is “a quick stop, but it’s not fast food.” Food is made for each customer, after he or she orders at the counter.

Abe came to the United States in 1975 to work for Benihana of Tokyo’s Denver restaurant. After “a short time,” he says, he quit. “I was not happy.” He got a green card and opened his own restaurant, Shogun, in Englewood. “I couldn’t make money,” he says, because the economy in Denver in the 1980s was in the midst of collapse. For two years he worked at Sushi Zanmai in Boulder before opening Ichi Ban in north Longmont 11 years ago. This past February he moved to the location on Ken Pratt Boulevard.

Surrounded by offices, Ichi Ban is enjoying a good lunch business, “but dinner is up and down,” says Abe. He is working on getting a liquor license.

Abe finds that most of his customers don’t know about Japanese cuisine, and he is working to educate them. “I tell them, ‘Why don’t you try it? I guarantee you if you make a test, it will be good!'”

Along with the sushi, his menu offers a variety of chicken, beef and vegetarian entrees, most served with rice and vegetables. The selections vary with cooking methods and sauces. For example, the yakiniku entrees are spicy, the hibachi entree is a stir-fry, served with a ginger sauce and a mustard sauce. Some dishes are served with udon noodles. The children’s menu offers a teriyaki chicken with rice and vegetables or Japanese style chicken noodle soup.

Ichi Ban is open for lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday.

It’s a little bit of Japan in, of all places, Longmont.

Ichi Ban, on Highway 119 just east of Hover Street, is much like a restaurant you would find in Japan, says Owner Shigetoshi Abe.

A Japanese restaurant might have tempura on the menu, but “not like in America,” not so greasy, says Abe , 55, a native of a northern suburb of Tokyo. The Japanese are also are not as crazy about teriyaki as Americans are, he says, although Ichi Ban does serve both teriyaki chicken and beef dishes.

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