Monday, September 03, 2012

japanese/sushi: i recommend HI SUSHI

No. 58 MinSheng E. Rd, Sec. 4 台北市民生東路四段58號
(02) 8712-2538

MRT: Zhongshan Jr. High School


hours: 11:30AM - 9 PM


Kid friendliness: no high chairs spotted, mostly sushi bar seats with limited booth seating. cooked seafood items also available.

Visit reviewed: 6/17/2012 & 8/23/2012

For the longest time, I was a bit of a sushi snob. I was surprised that a chain like Sushi Express repeatedly won the readers' vote as "Favorite Sushi" on the Best of Taipei Readers' Choice Poll and I avoided the sushi conveyor belts for years. It also didn't help that I had found some tiny sushi bars that offered amazing, fresh sashimi for affordable prices.

But one day my friend said her son loved eating at Sushi Express and invited me to join. Seeing the variety of nigiris and the plates stack up brought down the wall that I had put up. It wasn't the most amazing sushi at NT$30 for everything, but it was relatively fresh and kaiten sushi was a different, fun experience. 

Hi Sushi is another conveyor belt chain, but supposedly a step up, with slightly higher prices and fancier decor. You might have spotted it in your neighborhood or in a mall food court, and the multiple locations makes it quite convienent. This one was near my grandma's house and she had never been, so I took her there for lunch. You can sit along the sushi bar, or there are some booths available along the conveyor belt too. Some locations, like the one on Zhongxiao even has seats apart from the belt, which takes some of the fun out of it.

The individual photos make it easy to order if you can't tell what things are as they are whizzing by, and reminds me of those table top signs at American Japanese restaurants growing up. I didn't eat sashimi until I was in my 20s, but once I got used to the idea I was chewing on raw fish, it was as satisfying as eating a slab of steak. Hi Sushi wouldn't be a bad place to introduce a newbie to sushi, since everything is clearly identified and a variety of things can be sampled.

Hi Sushi's menu also has English, Chinese and Japanese for each photo, and little colorful dots next to the Chinese name. The dots match the plates of the dish and represent how much it is. If you're on a budget, you can stick to the yellow plates which are NT$40 each, or get the daily special which give you an extra piece for the first order of your party. Hi Sushi also serves tempura vegetables, grilled fish, mini hotpot and other main dishes to make a more filling meal.

There's probably over 50 variations of sushi to choose from, but here are some of my favorites that I ordered on repeat visits. I like ordering some items directly from the waiters or sushi chef, since you can never know how long some of those plates have been making the rounds. 

Tuna with Spring Onion (NT$60) and Shrimp Roe (NT$40) Since it's hard to find spicy tuna here, this is a good sub. Chopped up tuna to spice up with some wasabi. I like to order this from the sushi chef so the seaweed is crisper and fresher made to order.

Botan shrimp (NT$150) is plump and sweet and fresh. The sparkly plate means that it's going to cost you! This is the most expensive plate I've picked up, but the Hi Sushi color scheme pricing has plates as expensive as NT$250.

The Seared Salmon with Mentaiko Sauce (NT$80) has become a favorite of mine. When salmon is seared it's melts in your mouth and the extra sweetness and creaminess of the mentaiko mayo lends it a dynamite baked effect. The seared cobia and the flounder on Hi Sushi's top 10 list are not bad too.

These next pricier items I'd rather rather get at my favorite sushi bar, but if you're craving them, you can give them a try. I have to note that I had an allergic reaction after a visit to the Zhongxiao shop which might have come from some of the shellfish I had that night, either the scallops or the shrimp, since my friend also had a reaction a few days later from dining at that branch.

Seared scallop (NT$120) 

Anago (NT$100) is okay, but lacks the seared smokiness that makes it fragrant.

I definitely wouldn't order the uni (sea urchin) handroll again. It lacked the sweetness and intensity that I have had from sea urchin at other places and it's worth paying for a better bite.

I like to organize my plates by color when we're done and do some math before the waitress rolls by to tally the bill. Even though the plates are cheap individually, they add up and it ends up usually being around NT$400-500 a person. Hi Sushi is not a bad way to create your own omakase for the evening or have a quick meal when you can't get last minute reservations at your favorite hole-in-the-wall sushi bar. What's your choice? Sushi Express vs Hi Sushi vs your favorite sushi spot?


Nanjing 南京店 
No. 22, Nanjing E. Rd, Sec 3
(02) 2508-0618

ZhongXiao  忠孝店 
No. 2, ZhongXiao E. Rd, Sec. 4, 2FL 

Tianmu 天母店
No. 55-1 Tianmu E. Rd 
(02) 2873-3565

Neihu 內湖店
No. 244, Neihu Rd, Sec. 1 

Taipei 101 信義一店
No. 45 ShiFu Rd, B1 
台北市市府路45號 (101購物中心B1)

No. 298 XInyi Rd, Sec. 4 

Hankyu Mall 阪急店
No. 8, ZhongXiao E. Rd, Sec. 5, B1

ShinKong Mitsukoshi A4 新光三越A4
No. 19 Song Gao Rd, 6FL 

ShinKong Mitsukoshi A8 新光三越A8
No. 12 Song Gao Rd, 6FL 

No. 156 ChengDe Rd, Sec. 1, B3 

No. 7 HengYang Rd 

No. 337 Nanjing E. Rd, Sec. 3, B2


MY said...

Hi, Hungry Girl. I'm eying those lovely mouthwatering photos of the "Sweet Freshwater Shrimp" and "Anago". Does the term "sweet" mean fresh shrimp sweetness or added sweet sauce?

P.S. Unfortunately I have seafood allergies, in particular shellfish. Can't breath. But the rest of my family is fine so I'm really asking for them, especially dad for our next trip to Taipei. Thanks.

joanh said...

hi MY, the sweet shrimp is the kind of shrimp.. there's no extra sauce needed and tastes best raw or seared. Hi Sushi is a good option for families for sure!

Anonymous said...

HI Sushi is fantastic, definitely a step up from Sushi Express (you get what you pay for) with more variety and still very affordable. Definitely a fan.