I’ve sung my praises about Sushi Hotaru before, one of my favourite sushi trains in the city, so when the lovely Sue invited me to tasting at Sushi Hotaru, I was only too happy to accept the invitation! 🙂
I usually prefer going to the Bathurst St branch over the TGV one because it’s usually quieter and it’s pretty much the same thing- $3 sushi, awesome touchscreen menus and plenty of tasty sushi dishes to choose from!
Whilst we usually sit down and dig in straight away, we’re more thirsty than hungry on this occasion, so drinks first! With names like ‘Monkey Magic’, the drinks menu seems a little more like a cocktail menu than your average sushi train drinks menu. We’re not sure where the name comes from but the Monkey Magic is a combination of soda, lychee and kiwi. It’s a great thirst quencher, and though we don’t quite taste the kiwi, we really love the flavour of lychee.
The black sesame latte is not too strong on the sesame taste, but is nice and creamy. Most of the black sesame flavour comes from the scoop of sesame ice cream floating on top, making me wish I’d ordered it as a dessert rather than a drink!
This branch sets itself apart from its TGV sister by offering its own menu variations such as the Jewellery Fish and Snowflower which are only available at this branch. The jewellery fish lives up to its name, with the white fish nigiri topped with a sprinkle of glistening diced plum jelly. It’s an interesting combination, with the lightly flavoured sweet plum jelly complimenting the slight saltiness of the fish and rice quite well.
The snowflower is equally as interesting, with the white fish nigiri again, this time topped with chilli radish, and the plate dusted with ‘snow’ (flour). The taste of the chilli radish isn’t as prominent as the plum jelly in the previous dish, but is certainly another different taste combination. Those who are sensitive to chilli will also be glad to know that the chilli radish isn’t that spicy either.
My one prior experience with beef tataki at another Japanese restaurant hadn’t been all that great, so I wasn’t sure if I wanted to order the beef tataki nigiri when it was recommended- but the promise of wagyu beef convinced me to anyway. Lightly seared on the outside, with a nice, red, juicy interior, it certainly looked the part! We were pleasantly surprised to find that we actually enjoyed the beef tataki as it was nice and soft, and not chewy at all.
I don’t normally order California rolls at sushi trains wither, because to be honest, they’re usually relatively boring. I made an exception this time since the chef recommended it as their version is different, with a special sauce.
We’re not quite sure what to think after the first bite- it certainly is unlike any other califormia roll we’ve had before. The sauce is slightly tart and sweet, with an unusual lolly-like sweetness unlike what you would normally find in a Japanese sauce. We learn later, that the sauce is like a yogo-mayo sauce, that is, a mix between yoghurt and mayonnaise.
A few bites in however, and the combination of the sauce and the sushi roll seem to go together quite well, and certainly makes for a much more exciting version of a California roll. I quite enjoyed the flavours though I can’t say that my dining partner was a huge fan.
The California roll is also available in handroll form, for those who like a more hands on approach 😉
The chef hands over a plate of sushi which we happily accept, only realising after a few seconds of confusion that we didn’t order it. Upon attempting to return it back to the kitchen however, the chef just smiles and says ‘I know, just try it!’.
Turns out that it’s one of the rolls that part of the new menu that is rolling out in this week, as part of the 3 to 4 new menus that they add every year. I forgot to ask for the name of the dish It’s called LOL (and whoever made up the name probably wasn’t feeling overly creative that day, but it’s an inside out roll with fried prawn and cucumber inside, and a fancy seared sauce on top. The prawn and cucumber provide a nice textural contrast) but it’s the sauce that really makes this roll special. Don’t worry about dipping this roll into your soy sauce; the creamy, mayo-like sauce is tasty enough, with a pleasant light sweetness that brings everything together.
We’re really hoping that this stays on the menu for good 😉
And speaking of ditching the soy sauce, you won’t need it for the tuna gunkan either. We’re surprised to find that the tuna cubes already come lightly coated in a sauce that has a slight aromatic taste of sesame oil, which reminds me a bit of Japanese salad dressings.
The seared salmon never fails to disappoint, the soft pink salmon with the light charred taste from the flame.
Nor does the soft shell crab hand roll, without a double our favourite dish from the restaurant!
Sushi Hotaru is on Bathurst Street (towards Hyde Park direction)- check out the map on their business card! It also doubles up as a loyalty card (for this branch only) where you can collect stamps for every $20 spend, and get 10% off every 5th stamp. Which will definitely be of use for when we come back soon for the unnamed new dish on their menu!
Meanwhile, I’ll be drooling over my own photos and their promotional video here.
P.S: They’re also running a promotional happy hour at the moment between 14:30~17:30 everyday where you can getmiso soup or green tea for free!
Von dined as a guest of Sushi Hotaru and SD Marketing