Sushi Train - Hotaru @ Thursday, March 12, 2015

Date of Visit - 1st March, a Sunday Afternoon

The way the light reflects I can only seem to get half the sign at a time...

Sushi Hotaru seems like the most popular cheap sushi train in Melbourne, with most dishes at $3 there's always long lines out the door, well they start in the corridor (picture below). Located in MidTown Arcade like it's sister restaurant Wagaya, it's not a place you just walk by, you need to know it's there to go there. And that is one of the reasons why it has been on my list for years though it's not till now we have been. We came across the secret location on our way to Wagaya last month.

The corridor that acts as a waiting room, usually very busy.

There's always a long line, you need to go in, get a number and wait outside. There was no signs telling you this, so there's no way of knowing this, unless you looked up a review. There should be signs. We waiting around 15mins at 3pm. And by we I mean I ordered a table for one. The more people in your group the longer it takes I'm sure.

While waiting we picked what we were going to order, there's menus at the counter where you go to grab a number. Plan or plan to fail. Today didn't go well as someone couldn't keep up and got left behind, we did not intend to dine alone this afternoon. 

I forgot to get pictures of the restaurant as it was fully packed, but there's a large rectangular shaped bar table but more of a u shape with the kitchen in the center. There was also a couple booths that didn't seem to have access to the train.

 If you'd like lemon or any of the accompaniments like pickled ginger, ask.
They also have free tap water, which you'll have to order through the ipad.

Each ipad is between two seats so you can both use the ipad, order's easy. After you're done go back to the main screen so the other person can order. Personally when I jabbed the back button it didn't work, but when the guy beside me pressed it, it worked. 

Your options are to order hot food or anything they have on offer through the ipad or pick dishes off the train, we decided to order from the menu, that way we knew what everything was, and the train's pretty fast so if you take it off, you'll have to wait awhile to find space to hop back on the convey belt.

Starting off was miso soup ($2.50) which was good, not too salty, it was very similar to Wagaya's. Though there was just seaweed and thin slices of lotus something. Research tells me that they're under the same company as Wagaya, so that explains it.

As you eat you can watch the kitchen staff create dishes. 
I'd love to have a sushi party, where we make sushi together.

The last thing I believe is scampi, from the lobster/prawn family. Not brave enough to eat something with eyes... Le beau agrees, though Jas would try it. This rainbow sashimi (raw) looks amazing... 

Chicken Karaage was good, it wasn't plain though needed a squeeze of lemon. I got slices instead, thin slices, and struggled. Shall ask for a wedge next time. All the sushi dishes are $3 each, and so I haven't mentioned the price more than once/twice. 

Seared Salmon & Scallop (Something) was good, but don't smell it first! The  Egg Omelette Nigiri was dry and disappointing. It was also kinda small. I much prefer the one at T... Sushi. 

Crab Stick & Mozzarella Cheese was an interesting combo, 
though the cheese was a bit bland. Perhaps try cream cheese?

We always order drinks when they have something special on the menu, in this case Calpis (yes I know I had it just yesterday). A can for $3.50, a bit much for a can, but the sushi's cheap, so there's a balance. The drink is great cold, at room temp. it's just ok. Just remember calpis yoghurt = soda and water = no bubbles.

There was about 3 options for dessert that came in both green tea & black sesame.

We finished off with Black Sesame Mousse, which was light and airy, with a light flavour. The topping however ruined it. Red Bean is strong and sweet (I like it!) but it cast a shadow over the black sesame, like having coffee and the tea. The tea is now bland. 

Damage - $24.80. Including a drink & dessert that's usually the max I spent. 

Overall an average experience. Nothing I'd come back for, other than maybe to give it a second chance. We might come back with le beau, for the experience. While the sushi is more varied than your average sushi place I'm pretty happy with mine, especially for the egg sushi.

If you're planning to visit don't go during peak hours, brunch or afternoon tea on a weekday would be best. Lunch & Dinner would be very busy, expect long waiting time especially if you're in a group.

Have you been to Sushi Hotaru? What did you think? Any dish recommendations?

Have you been to any other sushi trains you'd recommend? 

We're off to Gogo Sushi on Swanston next.

Sushi Hotaru on Urbanspoon

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