Hit-and-miss dishes at Sushiro
Japan's top kaiten (conveyor belt) sushi chain Sushiro is finally in Singapore.
It has more than 530 outlets in Japan, Korea and Taiwan, and has just opened its first outlet in South-east Asia at Tiong Bahru Plaza.
Singaporeans who have been to Japan would have eaten there, and that was probably why the place has been attracting queues since it opened. Who doesn't love a bargain, right?
But the idea of budget sushi is dodgy. So I went to Sushiro with apprehension and made alternative dinner plans, just in case.
Sushi coming around on a conveyor belt is not new to us.
Sushiro has a personal delivery system. After you key in your order, the dishes are sent via the belt to your table. That is more fancy, but it is no revolution.
In the end, it is the food that matters. I went to Sushiro with a foodie friend who had eaten at an outlet in Fukuoka, and said he couldn't taste the difference.
Ultimately, I ate my fill of sushi. Some were as expected and boring, some bombed, while some caught my attention. My favourites were the more unusual ones.
The eel with cheese ($4.80) is one of the most expensive items at Sushiro, and I would gladly pay for it again.
The combination of brie, eel and rice may gross some people out, but it works.
The umami of the cheese and the eel work together nicely. It is a rich and filling item. It might take some determination to not overindulge.
I am so used to the usual hot chawanmushi that the cold version ($3.50) surprised me.
There is a gelatinous cap made of a special soup stock. It is savoury and addictive. The chill of the gel intensified the flavours too. The ingredients - prawn, scallop, chicken and fishcake - were not revolutionary but gave it texture and heft.
I don't recall ever seeing pork as a sushi topping, so I just had to try the pork belly ($3.20). It was lightly grilled, and the fatty bits remained intact.
I thought it added to the experience because that buttery creaminess of the pork fat went well with the sushi rice.
One of the prettiest plates is the mapo eggplant ($2.20). And the name suggests that I'll get a hit of spice, which I found promising.
Sadly, whatever sauce they smeared on the eggplant was tepid at best.
On the other hand, the shrimp with coriander ($2.20) looks tame but the chilli sauce packed a punch. It was too jarring for the sweetness of the shrimp and just about dominated everything else.
I wish there was some balance because it is pleasant to have a spicy dish to break the monotony, but this made me want to pack up and leave.