by Samantha Bender
Eddie Chen hosted the grand opening of his newest restaurant, the Ichiban Express and Pokebowl on Nov. 1. The mayor of New Britain and citizens alike, came out to support the new business for a day filled with excitement and lots of eating.
Located just outside of CCSU’s campus, the Hawaiian and Japanese restaurant allows customers to customize their own meal made strictly of fresh ingredients.
After spending over eight years perfecting the menu for his restaurant, Chen has put together two options for the sushi section. The restaurant offers Hawaiian style sushi and offers an authentic Hawaiian experience. All of the sauces offered are homemade, the Hawaiian style sushi is sliced fresh into cube size pieces, and marinated in different vegetable dressings.
Chen has worked in the restaurant business for over ten years, using his experience and expertise to construct the “perfect” menu.
“When it’s not perfect I won’t sell it to anyone,” Chen said.
Chen oversees all employees and restaurant operations with the help of store managerJoe Chen, alongside front manager Connie.
The restaurant offers affordable and reasonable pricing generally within the $10 range. Ichiban Express and Pokebowl runs at the pace of a fast food restaurant but emphasizes the dining experience.
One of Chen’s priorities at the opening of the restaurant was cutting back the wait time for customers. They make it possible to eat a Hibachi meal in a shorter amount of time than a typical Japanese restaurant.
Chen emphasized the store’s attention to detail at the restaurant and how crucial each of the five steps is in making a good poké bowl. Patrons have a choice a base, protein, mix-ins, sauces and toppings.
“Steps one through five will make a good meal,” said Chen.
Ichiban Express and Poké Bowl’s major focus is the taste and flavor of their food. However, the employees also take pride in the cleanliness of their restaurant. They have an open kitchen so customers can watch their food being handled and assembled safely. They put much of a stress on customer service and believe that the way they treat their customers will ultimately determine whether or not they return for another meal.
Providing excellent customer service is also a top priority at Ichiban. According to Chen, “Customer service is key.”
Ichiban provides a unique twist on Hibachi style food. If a Hawaiian -Japanese fusion restaurant sounds like something you would enjoy, head over to 1460 East Street in New Britain, just off of CCSU’s campus.
Ichiban offers free Wi-Fi and space for students to eat, interact, and hang out. A patio and outside dining space are planned to open before summer.