Ichi Sushi is one of those restaurants that has a local cult following, and the legions cheered when owners Tim and Erin Archuleta announced they were expanding to a bigger spot across the street. The new spot includes a larger restaurant/sushi bar (though not much larger -- only a seven-seat addition) and a new bar, called Ni, where the legions can wait for their omakase. As I wrote in this week's restaurant review, both are worthy of a visit.
"In the old space, every time somebody would be standing outside in the cold and the rain a little part inside me just died," says Erin Archuleta, who runs front of house (her husband Tim runs the kitchen). Both say that they're excited about the potential for the new back izakaya not just as a place to stay warm and dry and eat delicious skewers as you wait for a table, but also as a place for the neighborhood to congregate. The Ichi omakase experience is one not to be missed, but, as Erin points out, "Sometimes when you're a neighbor, you just want a beer and a sandwich." Ni Bar is meant to be a casual, more affordable spot to fill that need.
The back bar still feels a little unfinished, more like an add-on to the sushi portion of the restaurant than an attraction in its own right, but as I say in my review, I'm sure that it will settle in. And with the new PizzaHacker across the street, La Nebbia around the corner, and neighborhood stalwarts like the Blue Plate Cafe, the Front Porch, and Emmy's Spaghetti Shack, La Lengua is becoming a dining destination in its own right -- and that's not even counting the neighborhood's excellent watering holes like Virgil's, El Rio, the Royal Cuckoo, and Rock Bar.