The Chameleon. Lurking in the urban jungle, undetected, unknown, blending into the ever changing landscape, sampling everything from fine dining to reviewing take away joints, this lizard loves food possibly a little bit too much.

HANA Japanese Sushi Restaurant

Overall score: 65/100
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Once in a while something unusual bestows an unusual place and it is such with the HANA Japanese Sushi Restaurant which has operated out of Toowoomba for some while now.

LOCATION
The Chameleon never thought that he could put the words "Toowoomba" and "good sushi" into the same sentence, yet here he is, after the experience, very content with what HANA had to offer. Tucked away slightly away from the Toowoomba CBD, HANA Japanese Sushi Restaurant is located on the corner of Hume and Margaret, next to a real estate and take away burger joint. While this area doesn't conjure up images of a fine upmarket dining precinct, parking was easy to find when I visited and the center was clean and had a utilitarian neat feel about it.

THE EXPERIENCE
As you enter the door, HANA is much like many other typical sushi train restaurants, although first impressions didn't inspire a 'quality' feel. Greeted by a lackluster "moshi-moshi" from two of the 6 or so staff, it had the Japanese feel, but in a watered down form. As the Chameleon sat down at one of the booths he noticed it wasn't as neat as it could be and the table wasn't wiped down until after he was seated. These two things can be forgiven though, as booths are often the choice for children and half the fun of a sushi train would be standing up and seeing the small plates going around and around and around, and the place was busy enough to excuse the table readiness. The Japanese music playing in the background was at exactly the right volume and fit the ambiance perfectly. The restaurant wasn't super busy when the Chameleon visited, but the diners seemed to be having a great time and it sure beat sitting in a restaurant by yourself, as the Chameleon had experienced on a few previous occasions at other establishments. The train itself was in a "U" shape and the food preparation occurred at one end of the restaurant. Overall, somewhat of a disappointment when compared to other sushi trains; the food that was to follow though more than made up for it's shortcomings. Staff were nice and helpful, but the cordless phone use and the gesturing from one end of the place to the other while serving customers was an unnecessary, somewhat rude distraction that seemed to be ongoing during the Chameleon's stay.

THE FOOD
What can I say about the food? It was bloody brilliant! HANA had the best sticky rice in its dishes that I have experienced in a long time. The presentation on the little plates was excellent and as plate after plate exited the train, the flavours melded beautifully to represent exactly what sushi should be. The soy sauce being used fitted the dishes very well and, as is the Chameleon's preference, the pickled ginger came fresh in little sachets rather than the dry mass offerings you get elsewhere. The ingredients were fresh and the textures that came with the sashimi were very nice indeed. The variety was OK, but there were some key typical sushi train items that were missing like tempura base dishes. I'm sure however, these could have been ordered specially if the need arose.

OVERALL
HANA Japanese Sushi Restaurant was a refreshing experience for the Chameleon, as a sushi train in Toowoomba is a welcomed addition to the typical restaurants which dot the city. While the physical restaurant itself was a bit of a let down, the food was the saviour to score a respectable 65 for a sushi train restaurant. Very much worth a visit. 65/100  

1 comment:

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