K and I recently had a quick meal at Sushi Hotaru in the Galeries in the city prior to attending a Sydney Writer’s Festival event. It’s a bustling sushi train restaurant – the place was already half-full by 5.30pm on a Friday night, and there was a definite queue out the door by 7pm. The appeal is clear – like most sushi train restaurants, you pay by the amount of plates at the end of the meal, and Sushi Hotaru was very well-priced, at only $3 per plate.
A clear selling point for Sushi Hotaru is the sheer volume of the dishes on offer. With over half a dozen sushi chefs behind the counter working furiously, you are constantly being served up new freshly-made offerings. No dish goes around more than three times, and if you manage to get some good seats, you can even get some fresh hot dishes straight out of the kitchen in the back (example – the fried scallops above – hot, crispy, with a beautiful light batter!).
I also particularly enjoyed some of their grilled sushi, which they do in large batches in front of you with a hand torch. There’s a touch of theatre in the way they make it, adding to the whole sushi train experience of seeing your food being prepared right in front of you. For the $3 charge, they are also surprisingly generous with their portions. We ordered some handrolls off the menu and for only $3, my soft shell crab handroll was absolutely stuffed with crab from top to bottom. K’s wagyu beef handroll was the same – absolutely full of beef.
The main downside to many of the dishes was that they are very generous with the amount of sauces they use to top their sushi and sashimi. I have a personal preference for plain sashimi – give me a piece of top quality raw salmon with some soy sauce and a touch of wasabi and I’m happy. However, they tend to use quite a bit of Japanese Kewpie mayonnaise and other sauces on top of a lot of their sushi, which didn’t often suit my preference for fresh and crisp tastes.
We walked out feeling comfortably full, for only $39 for two people, which included the price of soft drinks as well. It was a real bargain and with the variety of dishes available, is well worth a visit the next time you’re looking for a good dinner out for two.
I rate Sushi Hotaru an 8 out of 10.