Thursday, July 20, 2006

CLOSED/japanese: i don't recommend NIKO NIKO ROLL AND SUSHI

CLOSED a/o 2007

19, SongGao Road, 6F
Shin Kong Mitsukoshi A4
02) 8788-1155


date reviewed: 5/16/2006

Sushi. To some people it means raw fish, or sashimi. I personally was not a big fan of sashimi until I was introduced to some of the freshest sashimi I've ever had about 7 years ago. So before I dared to eat sashimi, my definition of sushi were sushi rolls, like California rolls. Are rolls typically an American phenomenon? They definitely seem harder to find here than in LA, where I have become accustomed to the crazy diversity of "make-up-your-own-combination" of ingredient rolls if you don't find what you want here. Rainbow rolls, spider rolls, catepillar rolls. Or the more random "da bomb," "woody," "hole in one," "sunnyscape," or "cesar" rolls from California Roll Factory in West LA.

So I was very excited to hear about and try Niko Niko Roll and Sushi which was supposed to feature over 30 types of rolls. Their diner-like atmosphere is a bit of strange setting for Japanese food, but a sign of the "fast food" sushi that was to come. Actually, the almost empty room should have been a bigger sign, but I thought it was the random location on the 6th floor of a mall.

The menu has lots of pictures, and sorts the rolls into categories like Pretty rolls, Seafood rolls, Warm rolls, Spicy rolls, Vege and Crunch rolls. They have English names for the various rolls like Grand Canyon or BLT roll, but no English descriptions of what are inside each roll. The waiter is not a lot of help, so unless you have someone in the party to read the Chinese descriptions, you kind of have to just go by the pictures. We got one from each category.

The rolls reminded me of rolls I had from the chain Sushi Mac. If you've ever eaten there, they sell rolls for US$2 each. However, it kind of tastes like what you are paying for. And though the prices at Niko Niko are not that cheap, they seem to have skimped on the things that might notice. The eels were thin. The shrimps were small. The crab was more fake than fake. The avocado constantly fell off the catepillar roll. The rice and rolls were mushy. In our rolls that contained eel, the eel was sliced so thin, I felt like they had taken a normal piece and sliced it into 4 or 5 slivers to hide in the roll. Instead of appreciating the tastes of each roll, unfortunately each roll tasted the same as the next.

For some reason, I haven't had any good spicy tuna in Taipei. The spicy tuna we had here was just hot and I think there were onions in the roll? The warm roll we ordered was baked and strangely appetizing, but you could not tell what was in it at all! The rolls here made me miss the roll with the jumbo clam in it from Hide and the spicy tuna rolls from Nijiya.

They also have combos and teriyaki, tempura, sukiyaki type meals that actually looked pretty good. The table across from us had opted for the recommend combo which delivered both sushi rolls and tempura, sukiyaki meals to share. We hadn't ordered any of that because we wanted to save room for the rolls. Oh well. Maybe next time, if there is a next time.

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