Monday, January 19, 2015

Sushi Hotaru - Sydney

Sushi trains bring back lots of memories. High school trip to Japan where a bunch of rowdy teens filled the whole sushi train shop. Lots of wasted time in HK waiting to be seated (cos every sushi train was super crowded back in the day). Late night after-uni sushi training. Much happiness indeed. So when we were invited by lovely Sue to dine at Sushi Hotaru, we jumped to the occasion.
It was my virgin trip to Sushi Hotaru, even though there has been many good things about the place. The first thing that drew my eye was the mosaic backdrop - sets the scene well :)
the chef (off to side) was camera-shy but super friendly :)
Most sushi plates are $3, which is awesome really. And not only can you pick off the train, you can also order off their i-pads (which unfortunately for me, means a lifetime of indecisiveness). Nonetheless, we made our choices and left stomachs satisfied.
Sushi Hotaru adds three-four new menu items each year. Guess that means you can come back time after time and try something yummy. For tonight, some of the new items included a crunchy prawn and cucumber roll, pork buns and seared chilli squid nigiri. That's where my search for new items stopped and instantly, focus was on eating. The seared chilli squid nigiri was super tasty. Slightly charred flavour, sweet (sauce-wise and seafood-wise), hint of chilli, all freshness and just zomg YUM. A plethora of really pleasing flavours - took a lot of self control to not order a second.
On Sue's recommendation, I punched in the beef tataki nigiri. Being two slices of Australian Wagyu, slightly seared, topped with onion, ginger and shallot, it was soft, light-meaty tasting and didn't requite too much chewing. Much much yummier than other beef tataki's I've had in other places.
The salmon nigiri also came with glowing recommendations. A large, really fresh slice of salmon atop of neatly made rice ball. What could go wrong really! Delicious :) I have to say, I liked the salmon nigiri more than the ship sushi with salmon bits and salmon roe which was OK but lacked the wow. The salmon and avocado roll was also good but again, just like your standard. 
I would highly recommend using the screens if you are ordering sushi's with deep-fried or seared things. We took a few dishes straight from the conveyor belt - one of them being the soft shell crab roll. It wasn't bad - it's just that I could imagine all the potential - how much more awesome it could have been if it was made to order. And I guess they also have good QC on their train - every two hours, someone's checking to make sure that the sushi training around is still good to eat, discarding any that don't look appetising.
Halfway through our meal, the chef handed over a pork bun. I took it before I realised that I didn't order it. I was about to stammer out that it wasn't ours when the chef happily waved the dish back to us and told us to try. I was super glad we did. The pork was melt in your mouth. The pork fat aromas filled my mouth and the warm, soft steamed bun was there to soak up all the oils. And of course, the kewpi - just completed the whole bun for me. A bit of lettuce and some sweet brown sauce... the package was just deliciousness!
Hubby ordered an eel hand roll. Unfortunately, he felt like the eel needed a bit more sauce. He also chose the lobster salad ship sushi. I thought it was good (but I like all salad-dressinged things) but hubby thought it was so so. Nonetheless, we ended the meal with a bang as I ordered two more really yummy items (which were a bit similar but oh so yummy) - the seared scallops (with and without the chilli and sweet sauce) and the seared chilli salmon. It's similar in flavour in some ways - but the fact that one was a salmon and one was a scallop allowed you to differentiate and look at each sushi with renewed appreciation.
All up, I thoroughly enjoyed my meal at Sushi Hotaru. Tasty and fresh (especially when ordering off their fancy screens), definitely a good choice for a fast quenching of sushi craving. Moreover, if you eat here enough, you can collect stamps on their loyalty card - one stamp for every $20 - 10% off for every 5th stamp! Happy hour here is from 2.30pm to 5.30pm where miso soup or green tea is given for free :)

Sushi Hotaru (Town Hall)
125-129 Bathurst Street
NSW 2000
Tel: (02) 9264 1630

We dined as guests of Sushi Hotaru and SD Marketing

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