Thursday, July 23, 2015

Restaurant Review: Sushi Hotaru

A misreading of directions and settling for "well we are here now" a year or so ago let me find one of my go-to spots in Melbourne, Sushi Hotaru. It is a sushi train place, but with a difference.

Sushi Hotaru is located in the MidCity Arcade. You head up the escalator, past a very lovely looking Japanese restaurant that I will probably never go to now, past Japan Nails, a lingerie shop, another shop that seems to specialise in Hello Kitty to find Sushi Hotaru right in the middle of the arcade. If you go around lunch or dinner time there will be a bunch of people standing around outside. Stick your head in the door, give the number of people in your party and you will be given a number.

The wait is rarely long before your number is yelled and you are herded inside. The atmosphere is fast and buzzing, with wait staff bustling around. You sit at a long oval bar (there are a few booths too) watching the train go past, but in the centre of the oval, 5-6 people are constantly churning out the sushi.

It is fabulous to watch. Sure the fish has been pre-cut for them, but I love watching them deftly form the rice, top it with the various ingredients including all sorts of interesting sauces. There is definitely quite a bit of non-traditional sushi creativity going on here.

In addition to the ever varying sushi train, each pair of seats has a screen in front of it where you can order specials, from hand rolls to soups, drinks, hot food and more. Pretty much everything costs $3 a plate, even the special orders. The only exception is the gold plates of sashimi which cost $7.90.

On my latest visit I was hungry. I had three plates of sushi comprising some very delicious seared salmon around an avocado and I think cheese (?) filling, the same filling but topped with BBQ eel and the most sweet and delicious scallop topped sushi. Next up, I ordered a couple of specials, the soft shell crab hand roll and some crumbed prawns. The crab was delicious, perfectly tempura and wrapped in fresh, slightly crunchy seaweed. The prawns were sweet and served with a great mayo but I probably wouldn't go out of my way to order them again. I finished up with a plate of sashimi because I can never resist it. All up it cost the grand total of $22.90 - you can see why this place is so busy.

If you are after a quiet, relaxed dinner, where you linger over food and conversation, this is not the place for you. But if you want a fresh, tasty meal that is fast and well priced Sushi Hotaru is what you are after. Taking my time I think I'm only ever there 15 or so minutes.

I've never not seen this place busy. The freshness and quality of the food, the great prices, the innovative interpretations of sushi make it a great place to eat. There is absolutely no doubt that I'll be back!

Sushi Hotaru
Shop 118, Level 1, MidCity Arcade
200 Bourke Street, Melbourne

Sushi Hotaru is also located in Sydney at:
Level 1, The Galleries
500 George Street, Sydney


125-129 Bathurst Street

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