Ginga Portside (Hamilton) [9.5]
Anyone with the audacity to open a sushi train within scowling distance of Sono is either very foolish, or has mad game and is fully prepared to bring it. Judging by my experience there on opening day (today), Ginga is quite firmly the latter.
We've been to their South Bank train before, of course, and it was quite good. This was better.
I sampled multiple plates of tuna salad rolls, teriyaki chicken rolls, and some very fine tuna sashimi. I was only able to quickly snap a photo of a half-eaten plate of tuna salad rolls (pictured above), whilst my eating hand was temporarily distracted. The rice and nori were faultless, the presentation superb, and the taste just slightly short of sensational. Additionally, although they receive no points for this, the staff were friendly, knowledgeable and efficient.
Just go there. Go there now.
Temple Thai Restaurant (Milton) [5.5]
Milton seems to specialise in mediocrity. Mediocre restaurants, mediocre coffee, mediocre shopping, the QTAC building where mediocre students acquire mediocre STAT results to gain entry into mediocre university courses, and squat-houses of mediocre junkies who haven't hit rock bottom yet.
This metropolis of mediocrity contains a few sushi vendors; notably Little Lily on Railway Tce, and Temple Thai Restaurant (with sushi train) on Park Road. Little Lily offered an excellent view of a chemically-weathered couple arguing half-heartedly about money, but was unfortunately closed for business. Temple Thai, however, was open and more than ready to serve their only customer at Saturday lunchtime.
Complimentary sesame tea (and icy water) were welcome and refreshing, but, again, don't expect sushi miracles from a deserted sushi train. I grabbed some teriyaki chicken rolls and tuna ships, and got to work. Taste was average, the rice was dry and inadequately seasoned, and the nori was universally tough and chewy. It's not all bad, though - the service was excellent, and the prices quite reasonable - but if you want good vittles as well, stick to the Thai menu.
Sake (CBD) [9.7]
The Eagle Street Pier used to be the place to go if you wanted to get into a fight with a footballer and follow it up with a late-night Double Quarter Pounder (double cheese), but it didn't really have many other attractions. That all changed with the opening of Sake early 2011; a Brisbane branch of the popular Sydney restaurant. All I really have to say about this is that the food was exemplary, if a tad pricey, and tasted nearly as good as it looked. Watch your back, Sono.
Little Lily (Clayfield) [6.1]
Little Lily in Clayfield (they also have a restaurant in Kelvin Grove), is a Thai restaurant with a sushi train attached. We've written about sushi trains before; frankly, I don't know why more food and beverages aren't served from tiny model trains. "The Cattle Car" steakhouse could deliver an unending supply of eye fillets and frosty lagers to its many diners via steam train. Or better yet, "The Orient Express" delivering kebabs and portions of Turkish delight, and then returning from the opposite direction bearing chaussons aux pommes and what-not. Overall, model trains seem a woefully underused resource in the hospitality and service industry, and something that could surely enrich our lives.
Except for one small problem; sushi trains can be wildly inconsistent. Depending on what the clientele is eating, some sushi will be extremely fresh, and some will naturally be less so. Like those little hotdog rolls that no-one ever wants, condemned to trundle around till the end of time itself. This effect is magnified outside of peak hours, as there are fewer diners, and they make a narrower selection from the available offerings.
We arrived at a deeply unpopular time (Sunday morning), and got to work on the vittles. A teriyaki chicken roll and two supposedly identical tuna salad rolls were sampled (one quite bad, and the other quite good). Taste of all was disappointing, and one tuna roll was sugary-sweet. The rice was dry, and apparently unseasoned. This is a saddening result, and one that not even their use of a proper train can salvage.
San Kai (South Bank) [9.2]
San Kai, the self-described "Japanese Modern Cuisine" lounge bar in the heart of Southbank's eclectic restaurant strip, is an attractive sushi restaurant that promises an authentic dining experience.
Attracting a varied clientele, the classy yet traditional decor provides a relaxed atmosphere for our anticipating taste buds.
We chose a mix of sashimi and sliced maki rolls, including tempura prawn, california roll and salmon nigiri, all of which were insanely great. We also had a delectable duo of Teriyaki chicken and Katsu curry rice bowls, as San Kai also offers a large selection of hot dishes and bento boxes for the bustling take-away lunch crowd.
The nigiri reached our table on a beautiful wooden platter, garnished with ample wasabi and pickled ginger. Being wasabi fiends, we turned down the polite offer of having our salmon made without the customary green delicacy, however the option was quite thoughtful. The salmon itself was tender, creamy and soft like butter. The rice had a wonderful texture and the perfect amount of vinegary tang. All in all, damn son.
The tempura prawn had a delicate crunch and full flavour, made fresh to order and still hot from the kitchen. Conversely, while obviously made with skill and containing quality ingredients, our California roll was a little on the tasteless side.
However, this wasn't enough to put a damper on our delighted tongues, as San Kai will be a place that will see our drooling faces again and again.
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