After all our time spent in Asia lately, you might think we'd be sick of Asian food. Quite the contrary: we've found that the more we have Asian fare, the more we develop a real thing for it. We just can't get enough of the stuff.
A little while after we'd returned from our travels and we found ourselves in lovely maritime Greenwich, in need of some nourishment and with the familiar Asian food craving. There are a few options in this part of London - mainly low-end Chinese affairs - and we were umming and ahhing over whether we liked the sound of any when we spotted Aji-Ichiban. Looking a little inconspicuous from the front, it'd be easy enough to walk past it, but a closer look at the menu suggested decent prices and tasty Japanese fare. Oh, and the smell wafting through the door - that enticing smell of Japanese cooking. Mmm...
I could spend a bit of time at this point talking about the smart decor, the friendly service and the relaxed atmosphere, with tables set plenty far enough apart that you have a pleasing amount of space between you and the next table, even in a small restaurant. Many restaurants could claim this, though: but not many could serve you up Japanese food as good as Aji Ichiban.
We ordered pretty simple this time, starting with two hot brown rice teas (£2.50) which had an earthy, full flavour and a tendency to be very moreish - luckily, though, there are free refills aplenty here. Our appetisers came in the form of wonderfully warm, salted, soft, luscious green edamame beans (£3.50) and pork gyoza (£4.00 for 4 pieces), which were hot, warm, soft and tender and absolutely packed with umami flavour. They were - hands down - some of the best gyoza we've ever had.
We followed all of this with a pretty generous portion of Tonkotsu Ramen (£8.50) which had A cooing and slurping and nodding muffled approvals. I went for a Tofu Curry (£6.90) - simple, but my favourite Japanese meal. How good was the curry here? Almost as good at the curry at the legendary Tokyo Diner, which makes it just about as good as I've ever tasted. It was hoovered up in no time.
At under £30 between us, Aji-Ichiban represented brilliant value, and had brilliant food to match. The true testament to this place is that we've been back several times for a visit - even venturing down from our new home in north London to sate our craving for Japanese food. Aji-Ichiban, you're great.