I do love myself a good sushi fix once in a while but as I have a trip to Tokyo in a few months time, I have been trying to withstand my cravings. With the opening of a new sushi train in Melbourne, my will power quickly dissipated and since my former go-to sushi train, Sakura Kaiten Sushi, had become seemingly stingy with their portions, I was keen to crown a new favourite. The Sushi Hotaru brand, originally hailing from Sydney (the land of superior ramen and sushi trains, let's just admit it okay), brings a wide selection of dishes at affordable prices. They have eliminated the usual colour coded pricing system and implemented instead, a standard $3 cost per plate with the exception of the special gold plates. I think sushi trains are a fantastic concept as it's a feast for the eyes and the small servings means that you are able to experiment without committing to a full-sized dish.
In the first few weeks of opening, we arrived on a Friday night at 6:30pm with a steamy half an hour wait. It was such a relief to finally be seated in the cool restaurant and we quickly started picking plates off the train. One of my favourites, scallop, is always beautiful sweet when fresh and this was no exception.
The tuna with spicy sauce had a nice kick to it.
I'm not terribly fond of tuna in Australia as it tends to be frozen and result in a mushy texture; and the quality here was so-so.
The sashimi pieces were thickly sliced and while I enjoyed the salmon and kingfish, Mr A thought the tuna, again, wasn't very fresh from the texture.
The salmon and scallop together were a fantastic duo and the charred edges made the dish.
I'm not sure what type of fish this is; the texture looked chewy so I passed. Mr A though it was okay but couldn't determine the fish either.
In front of every diner, there was an ipad ordering system - whilst fiddly and unresponsive at times, it made ordering specific plates efficient and seamless, instead of waiting and hoping for the dish you were after to sneak under the radar past the other hungry diners.
I loved the smooth and creamy consistency of squid.
The fresh scampi was one of my favourites, creamy and velvety on the tongue and visually impressive with the scampi head and claws presented beside the nigiri. One of the sharp ridges of the head got caught in Mr A's mouth so be careful if you plan to mess with the head - a painful but funny scenario to witness.
From the ipad, we ordered a few of the grilled scallops which were much more enjoyable than the raw ones as the smoky flavour came through and developed a 'melt in mouth' quality.
The seared spicy salmon was nice but a spritz of lemon was needed as the spicy seasoning was minimal.
I can't recall if I've had flounder sashimi before, nonetheless I loved the delicateness and the lovely charred flavour.
The seared salmon was tender and buttery.
To finish off, we ordered a serve of ice cream each. The green tea had a nice balance between sweet and bitter.
I really loved the nuttiness of the black sesame ice cream which becomes quite addictive the more you get through it.
Stalking the sushi train for our favourites...
The tally sheet was placed in front of us when we had ordered the desserts so when we were finished, we requested a staff member to tally up our damage via the ipad. With the exception of the sashimi plate and desserts, everything else was $3.
With 15 plates and a dessert each, we paid a tidy sum of $57.50 which is quite a bargain when it comes to sushi train. I know that having lunch at Sakura Kaiten Sushi with one dessert to share comes to just over $80 (and we eat less for lunch!) so I highly recommend Sushi Hotaru for your sushi train needs. The service is friendly and accommodating - shouting welcome and goodbye in Japanese as you enter and leave; the quality of the food is good and the reasonable prices will have me returning for more when my sushi cravings get the better of me.
Will I return? Yes, some great dishes with affordable prices.
1st floor Mid City Arcade
Shop 118, 200 Bourke St
Melbourne VIC 3000
(03) 9663 7538
Every day 11.30am - 10.00pm