First, let it be known that Ichiban on the Rocks sells Sapporo lager by the bottle or the glass. That's a strong recommendation in itself, since Sapporo ranks with the Honda Civic and baseball legend Sadaharu Oh as among the many extremely cool things out of modern Japan. For one thing, Sapporo is an excellent complement to sushi, Ichiban's stock in trade--the more exotic the fare (like freshwater eel, octopus, salmon egg and squid sushi), the more efficiently the beer seems to wash it down.
But here's something to impress your friends with: As a term of art, 'sushi' (correctly pronounced 'zushi') is singularly misunderstood. It actually refers to the rice component of the popular raw snack, not the fish itself. The word for that is 'sashimi,' and Ichiban has more than enough to go around. For $15.50, you can get a sashimi plate with a helping of rice, three slices of tuna and two slices each of salmon, yellowtail, whitefish and albacore--plenty for both of you with, we suspect, a little to spare. Sushi dinners range from $8 to $13; miso soup, green tea and other Japanese staples are plentiful and available, as is an odd little dessert called red bean ice cream ($2.50). It's all every bit as good as it looks.
Ichiban on the Rocks is located at 1288 University Ave., toward the back of a strip mall. If the name 'Ichiban' sounds familiar, it's because this is the second location for the popular low-key Hillcrest sushi eatery. The new spot's more of a sit-down place with a wider selection of sake and other tasty intoxicants (hence the 'on the Rocks' addition). It's open from 5 to 11 p.m. every day; the happy hours (5 to 7 p.m. and 9 to 11 p.m.) feature generous discounts on a lot of the fare. If you correctly dial 619-220-0009, you'll reach the restaurant. If you don't and are thus discouraged from a visit, San Diego CityBeat cannot and will not be held responsible.