Sushi train review
Went to the new Sushi Train at Yonge near Bloor, which is run by Koreans. The sushi and other food items are paraded on a conveyor belt in front of you. You grab what you like, differently coloured dishes are tallied up at the end. Prices range from $2 - $4.50. The belt is arranged in two tight lines so you always have two lines in front of you going in opposite directions. Of the fish I tried, everything is fresh and good quality. However there are some problems which make me not wanting to go back soon.
1) variety is limited. You see the same kind of things going around. Other items are grabbed as soon as they appear.
2) where you sit is very important. When they brought out items like tempura, they always put it down at the same spot, in the "middle" of the belt. I never got any as I was not sitting near there and other people around that spot got to them first.
3) you would not know if the salmon sushi passing in front of you has been made and put on the belt 1 minute ago, or 1 hour ago. There is no indication, except for signs of the sushi drying out.
4) no labels on the dishes. And there are a few fancy rolls going around, some with cream cheese. It takes close inspection
to figure what some of them are.
The concept is fun and it works because there are similar restaurents all over Japan. Hopefully management can work on improving some of these problems.
BTW they serve an "omakaze" menu (that's how they spelt it) with all the courses listed out. Everything is set except for "3 pieces of sushi".
My friend decided that we should try SushiTrain tonight based on Amy Pataki's favourable review today. Conveyor belt dishes come in 5 prices, the top being $5.50 (generally two pieces of sushi or sashimi). A la carte is quite expensive (e.g. $13.99 for 8 large rainbow rolls) but sometimes cheaper than conveyor sushi (e.g. 3 pcs of a la carte sashimi was better value than 2 pcs of conveyor sashimi).
I agree with Teep that it's impossible to check ingredients or freshness with conveyor items. The chefs try to spread out the dishes fairly, and were quite happy to deliver special requests to prevent waiting for the desired dish to make the rounds. However, most of the dishes making the rounds seemed uninspired and, more disturbing, served at the wrong temperature.
My favourites: butterfish and salmon sashimi. Both were about the same quality you'd find at AYCE sushi places like Sushi on 7.
Uni was so cold, it was obviously recently frozen, as was the hamachi (which they initially claimed was out of stock). Deep fried gyoza were predictably disappointing.
Serve-yourself green or roasted tea (bags) were substandard. Complimentary miso soup was average. Lacklustre soy sauce and wasabi confirmed that this restaurant is not a chowfind.
I spent $51 plus tip on 7 items, only 3 of which were conveyor choices. It adds up quickly. My friends spent much less, but they stuck to conveyor items and ate less.
I was there a couple of weeks ago. It was 9pm. The conveyor belt still had 20+ items being circulated with only 3 people sitting at the bar. None of the items looked appetizing or fresh so we chose to order off the menu.
My friend and I ordered the sashimi appetizer, the hawaiian roll and the volcano roll. The sashimi was fresh but on the skimpy side.
The volcano roll was so unappealing that we abandoned it after having a piece each. It was drenched in this mayo mess and topped with something that looked like a grey meatball. It was so spicy that all we could taste was the heat and not any of the ingredients in the roll.
The hawaiian roll was slightly better but contained some minced ginger that really didn't work with the rest of the ingredients.
Their menu didn't list all the ingredients in each of the rolls, just the basics. When the rolls showed up, there was always a surprise and in this case, they weren't nice surprises. The pieces were so big, you couldn't eat them in one bite. Unfortunately they fell apart when you tried to bite them in half.
Our bill was $50 for the 3 items including tax and tip. Nice space and friendly service but not enough reason to return for us.
I've been for lunch, and the prices are more reasonable then. All dishes are the same price off the conveyor belt at lunch. If you eat 6 dishes or less, the price per dish is $2.50. 7+ dishes (per person) and the price per dish was $2.00.
Never got tempura, as we weren't at a key spot.
We visited Sushi Train later in the evening last night. Overall we felt it was overpriced ($15 for a dragon roll is a bit much) but we agreed that the atmosphere and the fun factor will keep us going back.
We tried almost all the dishes on the conveyor belt. To our surprise, there were very little repeats and the sushis were pretty fresh. I mostly had sashimis: nothing memorable. My companies, however, really enjoyed all the different sushi pieces, the declicious sauces and sprinkles of this and that that went on top.
The most enjoyable dish was the a la carte Beef Sashimi: tender, grilled beef slices wrapped around scallions, inoki, carrots, and portabello, topped with teriyaki sauce. Delicious for $4.
Essentially, if you are looking for westernized but good quality (albeit pricey) japanese place to impress friends, this is a good spot.
My complaint was the alochol price: for $6, my glass of house white was 1/7 full. That's robbery.
If you have picky and tiny eaters in town to visit, I would recommend it.
Keep walking south on yonge for Toku (Toko?) which is a sushi train-type place but the plates are about 50 cents cheaper each and, in my experience, offer more variety and more items, especially when they are busy.
Avoid the bento boxes though, the chicken is always kind of limp.