Visuals fit for samurai lords and high-rollers, prices OK for us peasants.

There are two things the Japanese restaurant chain Iccho is known for. The first is their beautiful architecture, with exteriors and interiors that look like a traditional samurai manor house.

But there’s an equally stunning beauty of a different kind when you open Iccho’s menu…

…and see the staggering number of food and drink options!

Estimates for the total number of items on Iccho’s menu are said to run between 700 and 800 items. And yet, even with all that variety, sometimes there’s still something new or seasonal being offered, which is the case right now with a special limited-time green tea dessert. Naturally, we had to try it, but not before taking a few moments to appreciate the elegant atmosphere and also eating a proper lunch.

We visited Iccho’s Sano Takahagi branch in Tochigi Prefecture, and on the way to our private room, we took a peek at the opulent inner garden, not only because of how pretty it looked, but also to help orientate ourselves in case we got up to use the bathroom later and had to navigate back to our table.

Despite the all-Japanese aesthetics, Iccho offers what’s called a “wa yo chu” menu in the Japanese restaurant biz, meaning they have Japanese, Western, and Chinese-style dishes.

But honestly, you’ll probably find yourself in the mood for Japanese food the second you cross the threshold of a restaurant that looks like this, so we opted for the Salmon-zukushi and Mini Udon Set, for 1,419 yen (US$9.15).

That’s right, though Iccho looks like the home of a samurai lord, its prices mean even those of us who aren’t so high on the feudal hierarchy/economic ladder can treat ourselves to a meal there.

The zukushi part of the Salmon-zukushi name is a term that’s used at sushi restaurants for when you get a bunch of different variations on a type of fish, and in this case we had standard nigiri-style salmon sushi, seared salmon, salmon with mayo, and even some stout circular gunkan-style chopped salmon sushi.

The accompanying chilled udon was broad and flat, unlike the round shape the wheat noodles are usually made into, and glistened invitingly before we dunked them into the bowl of dipping sauce.

Both the sushi and udon were excellent, and we felt especially classy enjoying them in the old-school atmosphere of the restaurant. Having cleaned our plates, we also were now comfortable declaring that we’d earned our dessert: The Matcha Warabi Mochi and Matcha Ice Cream Parfait (878 yen).

For this double-decadent green tea dessert, Iccho uses matcha sourced from Morihan, a Kyoto tea merchant that was founded all the way back in the seventh year of Japan’s Tenpo imperial era, or 1836 for those more accustomed to Western time-keeping traditions.

As you can probably tell from the intensity of its color, this is not a dessert where you just get a hint of matcha. This is a treat for serious matcha fans who enjoy the tea’s crisp bitterness, and between the ice cream, wiggly mochi, sweet red beans, and monaka wafer, there’s plenty of variety here too.

And really, we can’t think of a more fitting dessert to have at Iccho than something that can be described as “very Japanese with a lot of variety.”

Restaurant information
Iccho / いちょう
Address: Tochigi-ken, Sano-shi, Takahagi-cho 529-1
Open 11 a.m.-11 p.m (Sunday-Thursday), 11 a.m.-midnight (Friday-Saturday)

Related: Iccho official website
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