Saturday, December 19, 2015

Sushi Mentai, Ipoh

Japanese restaurants seems to crowding Ipoh since the early 2000 though not many really offer real quality and fresh menu items to their customers. Some has thrown in the towel, while some bigger names are still standing now. Nevertheless, restaurants which has a conveyor belt is scarce though, let alone the option of choosing between the franchised Sushi King or Sakae Sushi... Sushi Zento penetrated the market less than 2 years ago and offered a well rounded Japanese dining feel, comprising sushis from the conveyor belt for those who are tight on budget while offering a vast selection in the menu, including premium seasonal items. And best of it, it is one of the few Japanese restaurant which offers pork (ranging from the entry level of Sakura Pork till the famed premium Black Pork).

The latest craze now in Ipoh would be Sushi Mentai in Greentown Business Centre and Shinjuku Japanese Cuisine located inside Kinta Riverfront Hotel. I have yet to try the latter as the price is not cheap but it is the only restaurant which offers live action from the teppanyaki grill, not to mention Omakase option (which literally means leaving it to the chef to come up with the few course meal improvising the freshest ingredients possible to whip up a surprise). Anyway, this review is about the latest conveyor belt sushi restaurant in Ipoh...

The poster of RM1.80 and RM2.80 has been widely circulating in Facebook prior to its opening end of November. And as expected, the crowd is crazy! This could be probably due to "new toilet syndrome" (directly translated from Cantonese which kinda bring some resemblance to the Malay phrase 'hangat hangat tahi ayam') But judging from how reasonably priced it is on par with some of the lackluster sushis sold in pasar malam, I could not see what can stop this shop from brisk business day in day out.

The Agedashi Taufu is a reasonably priced appetizer item at RM4.50. Smooth tofu cubes is deep fried until light golden brown and served in a sho-yu based broth and topped with spring onions and bonito flakes. The slight drawback would be the tofu is no longer piping hot when served. 

The Salmon Sashimi may not be the best in Ipoh, neither is it the freshest. The source of sashimi and its delivery schedule/method are pivotal points in ensuring a memorable melt in your mouth experience. The one here did not really meet the mark. But judging by RM10.80 for 5 slices, I have no qualms on further comments. To me it is still passable if you are into a quick fix of salmon sashimi. This is because the salmon nigari sushi at RM2.80 only has a paper-thin piece of salmon and your cravings would not be satisfied.

This is one dish which caught my eye when I was flipping thru the menu. The Inari Roll looks like some California maki or Cucumber maki with a twist. Instead of using seaweed or cucumber slices to hold the filling/rice, the version here incorporated the usage of Vietnamese Rice Sheets. Not a single grain of rice to be found, the filling consists of julienned cucumbers, tempura batter, crabstick and egg omelet. They didn’t over do with the tempura batter so diners are saved from the agony of an oily aftertaste. Instead, it’s very refreshing, just like how the Vietnamese Rice Sheet Rolls supposed to be!

For the handrolls, I have some critics to highlight. The ingredients are fresh and they are generous with it, no doubt about that, the photos are also clear evidence on that.  However, the sushi preparation team should try their very best to speed up. I noticed that to create this 3 handrolls, I took more than 5 minutes! They finished one, talk with each other and chit chat with the waitress a bit. As a result, upon arriving, the seaweed sheet of 2 handrolls were already soggy! If the management reads this post, please feedback to the franchise and her team.

This is the Kitsune Udon (RM10.80), portion is just right for lunch, but people like me will need top up a few plates of sushi. The clear broth is tummy warming and the udon texture is passable.

The sushi here stray far from the authentic ones from Japanese. A lot of Malaysian-ised or fusion-ized with items such as Cheese Maki, Inari Pocket with chicken floss, Chicken Floss sushi, Ebi Fried with Cheese. And for RM1.80 you already can have a munch on the Edamame and also 2 pieces of Takoyaki. The prawn roll topped with meat floss was also something different than the kaiten sushi offerings in other sushi franchises. All for RM2.80, but the the portion might be reduced. This make it ideal for those who opt for a light lunch, perhaps just 2-4 plates would be sufficient and the meal will come up to slightly above RM10.

This version improvised the tempura prawn comfortably resting on an inversed Inari pocket, topped with ebiko roe. 

These are the few items which are not in the menu featured on the website. It is basically derivatives from the ebi ten maki or the tempura prawn roll. One of is has a inari (sweet beancurd sheet) wrapped around the roll. The other features a whole deep fried breaded prawn, topped with a slice of cheese before flamed grilled.

Strategically located at Greentown, at a corner lot which is "opposite Simpang Tiga restaurant" (I couldn't think of any landmark except for the Genting office and Maxis Centre nearby. Parking is a hassle during working hours. But try to be here before 12:30pm on weekends as they are opened at 11:30pm on weekends and public holidays, else you might need to wait for a table. For weekend dinner, try be make it before 7pm. Not much criticism on the food, except that the service crew and food preparation team need to really focus on their job and not chit-chatting and playing a fool. Diners are paying 10% service charge to you. and probably you can consider bringing the bill over rather than asking your customers to walk over the counter since its part of the service charge. Agree?

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