The only thing in Melbourne that outnumbers tragic office workers puffing on cigarettes are lunchtime sushi restaurants. But one stands above all others. Sushi Hon strikes the balance between style and substance. Every plate that chugs by is worth $4.50 and you can quietly fill your tummy with serious yummy without having to utter a word to anyone.
You can fill up and be on your way in less time than it takes to load up your rice cooker.
We normally avoid food courts and the shopping malls they live in. Emporium gets bonus points for hiding two genuinely excellent places to eat however, one being New Shanghai and the other being Shushi Hon. A takeaway section at Sushi Hon looks much like any other food court eatery, but tucked behind it are less then two dozen seats lined up along the sushi train. This is where the magic happens.
Off peak it’s never a problem to get some seats, with rapid turn over and constant delivery of new dishes. We even tried it during school holidays, and the hardest part was beating a path through to the “please be seated sign”. Once seated you grab what you like. Again and again and again.
The variety is excellent, with fresh preparations including pork gyoza, octopus takoyaki, agadashi tofu tempting you as they dance past your chopsticks. Sashimi plates are excellent, but the big deal here are the grilled nigiri and rolls. Rookies will fill up on the familiar looking nigiri plates, and then regret it. For the same price as a delicate little salmon nigiri you can have an indulgent crab roll with a hunk of scallop laid on top, charred with a blow torch and dressed in mayo and teriyaki sauces with a dollop of salmon roe and a hint of chilli.
When they talk of “grilled” nilgiri and rolls, it is the blow torch they refer to. Most fish acquire a smokey tone from the torching which is then balanced by the sweetness of the sauces. The cooked tuna rolls dressed with grilled salmon are a glaze of colour, and satisfyingly fill your belly.
You won’t get California Rolls or a Katsu Curry here. The drinks are generally over priced, but overall the value at Sushi Hon is spot on. Our only serious complaint is that most evenings the food court at Emporium is closed by 7pm, and closes at 9pm on days of extended trading hours. Late night sake and sushi is not an option here.
After the frenzy of the first few plates you start to slow down and watch some of the variety rolling by. Special treats made from brown and black rice do the rounds, pretty morsels but lacking the “eat me now” impact of the glamorous grilled rolls. The just keep going around and around, waiting for a more cultured diner than myself to take an interest.
Maybe I’ll try one of them next time. Or maybe I’ll just double down on the grilled scallops.