Of the many secret local gems in Catford that we’re promoting, Sapporo Ichiban ranks highly as one of the best independent restaurants around. Situated on Catford Broadway, within walking distance of both Catford train stations and opposite the legendary Broadway Theatre, it is ideally located.
With winter closing in and the cold biting our fingertips, it was a relief to step inside this cosy restaurant on a late November evening, with the warmth created by the steaming, aromatic hot-pots to welcome us. Those who know Sapporo will know that their interior layout and furniture is interesting to say the least. First off, there’s an amazing little lobby before you enter the restaurant, which is filled with all manner of gorgeous plants and a stone fish tank full of colourful lively specimens. It feels like briefly entering a natural oasis that I imagine might be akin to some Japanese nature reserve, and is rather idyllic...
On entering the main restaurant you will realise that there are two areas to sit in. You can either sit at a conventional table with chairs, enjoying your meal in our traditional fashion. But if you are feeling adventurous, they have an area at the back where you can sit-down on the floor with cushions and low, wooden tables, and dine in traditional Japanese fashion. For the more agile or flexible types who want that ‘proper experience’, this might be your preferred choice.
We sit down at a table (not feeling adventurous) and a waitress comes over. The menu is vast and offers a myriad of Japanese delicacies and traditional dishes. With a full 2 page spread for side dishes and starters alone, we find ourselves spoiled for choice and awkwardly order two Sapporo Beers to give us more time for menu-pondering. After some deliberation we decide on a shared starter consisting of Chicken Kara-Age, a tender selection of marinated fried chicken, and Duck Gyoza - small parcels of duck wrapped in steamed dough. Each were accompanied by tasty dips.
After polishing off those fantastic appetisers, we were eagerly anticipating what the mains had in store for us. Tom had ordered one of the ‘Bento Boxes’ of Chicken Teriyaki, which was split up into segments in a box with food arranged in scrupulous fashion. I opted for the Beef Ramen, fancying something a little more integrated and noodley…Arriving promptly after our starters, tucking into these scrumptious dishes was pretty easy. The ramen was a whirlpool of distinct flavours, with lots of vegetables, thinly sliced spring onions, and sesame seeds to spice up the tender beef and noodles. The soup was delicious with all of these well infused flavours. Tom’s Chicken Teriyaki was succulent and authentic, tenderly cooked to perfection and accompanied by yummy crunchy vegetables.
After somehow getting to the bottom of the seemingly endless Ramen soup, our appetites were wholly sated with unfortunately no room for dessert, though this will definitely be a priority on our next visit! Sapporo Ichiban really is a unique local gem worth exploring, even if you’re not local to Catford. The restaurant is beautifully decorated, the staff are kind and friendly, and the food is superb. With such a large menu too, you’re guaranteed to find something to indulge in even if you haven’t yet experienced the delights of Japanese food.
Lewisham Card holders receive a 10% discount off the bill at Sapporo Ichiban, so next time you visit you’ll be saving money whilst supporting one of Catford’s great local businesses!