The Skinny: Ichiban Teppanyaki & Sushi

By Wynter Holden

The rule in my house is that the person with the crappiest day gets to make the decision about what to do that evening. My roommate "A" finalized a bad breakup last Thursday, so dinner was definitely her call. My fingers were crossed for something healthy, and luckily, Miss A wanted to pound down some sushi.

So we piled in my little green Beetle and headed to Ichiban Sushi & Teppanyaki at 99th and McDowell in Tolleson. We didn't sit at one of the Teppanyaki cooktop tables, so I was limited to the regular menu. Unfortunately, the entree choices were pretty much meat drowned in teriyaki sauce or meat deep-fried in oil. Great! Either choice would bust my allowable fat intake for the day; maybe the whole week, if I had a combo.

Since I don't count grocery-store-bought California rolls as "real" sushi, I was technically a sushi virgin. Rice, vinegar and fish sounds super-healthy and low in calories, but you actually have to be careful with what roll you choose. Miss A recommended the tempura roll, but as far as I'm concerned, "tempura" must translate to "unhealthy and fattening" in Japanese.

So I tested one of my new dieting mantras: When in doubt, get an appetizer or two rather than a huge entree. Eating edamame first is always a helpful weight-management trick. At about 125 calories a serving, they're low in saturated fat, high in fiber and have more than twice your daily protein requirement. I ordered up some heart-healthy edamame, a small 4-pc steamed shrimp dumpling appetizer and one item from the sushi menu. I wasn't sure if I'd really bust my sushi cherry by ordering ebi (technically sashimi, not sushi) but I figured I'd give it a shot.

The shrimp shumai (dumplings) were a little briny, but salvageable drowned in soy sauce, and my first stab at sushi was decent. Altogether, it was a pretty decent meal. And it cheered up my poor friend Miss A. Sushi, and Japanese food in general, is a great choice for those trying to stick to a healthy diet regimen -- especially if you stick with boiled or steamed appetizers and sushi. Just steer clear of tempura anything, watch your salt intake (that soy sauce is a killer) and go light on the teriyaki.

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Wynter Holden
Contact: Wynter Holden