At the same time, there are lunchtime crowds both inside and waiting outside the restaurant Hotaru. The staff are in traditional garb, the walls are made up to reflect an ambiance of being in an authentic sushi bar back in the old country. The sushi train goes a long way and you can see the preparation of raw fish, seaweed rolls and more.
Do they still maintain the quality of the ingredients? Has a high level demand, especially at meal times, led to the abandonment of previous practices? Do you feel okay seemingly squashed seated beside a stranger on one side? More importantly, what does it still taste like when picked up by chopsticks into our mouths? The buzz about the place does raise expectations.
There are small tables for two persons apart from being seated along the sushi train counter. The price of each plate taken has gone up a nudge to $3.30 from the previous $3. Again, are sushi train bars the approximate equivalent to Japanese fast food? Or should they be recognised in their own right as another genre of Japanese cuisine?
My soft shell crab rolls that day were not totally fresh on the palate. Salmon was lovely but I dared not touch the Karaage chicken after advice from mates. I cannot resist avocado rolls but could not find my other favourite, California rolls, on the same day. There is a buzz in this place and it is not just noise and chatter. The bright orangey coloured roe are still delicately poised on sushi items.
Service to me was all right, especially in their efforts to find seats for us, but one must initiate contact when a meal is finished for the plate count. Food and drinks ordered on the IPad in front of each diner seems to arrive on a timely basis for most. The train does not go too fast, allowing for remaking decisions on missed plates.
The Sushi Hotaru visited is located on level 2 of the Galleries Victoria, 500 George Street in Sydney CBD and can be accessed from Town Hall Station.
Sushi Hotaru is operated by the YES Food Group, which has businesses in Melbourne, Kuala Lumpur, Queensland and Sydney. Their related operations include Poporo, Takumi, Ramen Kan, Izakaya Wagaya and Yakiniku Gyuzo.
Opening hours are from 1130am to 9pm every day.
Contact +612 9264 9917
My impressions of the Sushi Hotaru are that its advantageous location helps to attract custom. I did find the preparations have some inconsistency in quality, depending on what you order. It can be fun to go in groups but one must be realistic about catering for large groups all sitting down at any one time.