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Monday, 29 June 2015

Sushi Mentai @ Pandan Indah

I think I might have just found the cheapest sushi!!!  A relatively cheap sushi chain, with about 20 outlets nationwide (in Klang Valley, Seremban and Johor with one coming up in Penang in July 2015), just opened up in my neighbourhood recently.....it's Sushi Mentai @ Pandan Indah.  When I say cheap.....I really mean cheap!  I don't think there's a cheaper sushi franchise than this.  There are just two prices...RM1.80 (for yellow plates) and RM2.80 (for red plates)!  That's it!!  Is that cheap or what....I think a plate of sushi easily costs at least RM3 with most priced around RM4 - RM6. 
 
But, having said that, due to the prices of the sushi, you know you just can't expect really good quality sushi....it's just mission impossible! :(  But, it's great for those staying in the area looking for some fuss-free cheap sushi as an 'eat out' option.  So, if you keep your expectations low....you'll do just fine here.

The sushi belt here is loaded with all types of sushi plates most of the time, especially if you get here for an early dinner.  If you find the sushi belt a bit empty, it's because the workers can't keep up with the replenishing fast enough and not because of anything else (in such cases, you can order them from the menu).
 
Let me show you some of the RM2.80 plates of sushi I had.  As these are 'nothing to shout about' but plain old edible sushi (some, at least), I'll just show you the pics of the sushi with a two-word comment...some don't warrant more than that.  Those with no comments mean they're in a 'just so-so' category! :D

Salmon Mentai (yes, definitely)

Another version of the Salmon Sushi, this one with skin on and a dollop of mayo
(prefer the one with mentai)

Yet another version of Salmon Mentai with Beancurd that has a piece of salmon with torched mentai in a beancurd boat filled with sushi rice and fried tempura crispy bits (if you get them just after they were made)...definitely recommended!

Another type of Salmon Mentai where the salmon is wrapped all around the rice
(for sure)

Ebi (Shrimp) Mentai (highly recommended)

Crabmeat Mentai (recommended) as this one tasted fresher than those usual processed crab sticks

Unagi Sushi (of course)

Salmon Mayo

Hotate (Scallop) Mentai

Chuka Hotate (recommended)

(Fake) Sharksfin Sushi

Octopus Sushi (very chewy, can skip)

Chicken Karaage Sushi (don't bother)

Tempura Prawn with Beancurd (good value)

Crumbed Prawn with Tamago (it wasn't crunchy, probably on the sushi belt for too long)

Tuna & Beancurd Mentai (yes, their tuna seemed to have improved on a recent visit)

Japanese Potato Salad (for a combination of fluffy mashed potatoes, with some chunky bits, topped with ebiko)

And the best thing is, these RM2.80 plates are still priced the same, with or without mentaiko...now how great is that :)  No prizes for guessing which plate I'll go for! ;D

Fried/Torched Salmon Bones (hell yeah)

On a recent revisit, I found these on the conveyor belt...Salmon Bones that have been fried and grilled.  What an ingenious way not to waste the bones (after the good parts of the salmon have been sliced off).  Real fans of fish would relish at the opportunity to devour any bits of flesh left on the bones.  These were leftover bits of flesh still attached to the fins, belly, spine, tail, etc.

These bits of flesh that have been fried were absolutely fragrant, then grilled (or torched) to give it that extra smoky flavour, tossed in a sweet-salty teriyaki sauce and (finally) finished with a sprinkle of white and black sesame seeds for even more fragrance.  I was willing to overlook the fact that they were a bit oily coz they were so good...and grabbed a second plate as soon as I finished the first! ;D

And here were some of the RM1.80 plates....

Tamago Mentai (yes, approved)

Tuna Mayo (hell no)
 
On a recent visit, I noticed that that they've changed the type of tuna they were using as it looked different from the one above.  This Tuna Sushi had bits of chopped onion in them and tasted better than before and were, at least, more edible.

Takoyaki Octopus (order them when you don't see it on the belt and you'll get freshly fried ones)

Chuka Idako (Baby Octopus)
 
Inari (Beancurd) Mentai
 
The not-so-plus points...the presentation could be better, the sushi rice could be more compact, the seaweed more crisp while some of the sushi toppings could do with better flavours.
 
As for the condiments, the pickled ginger is passable...just a bit more tart than usual but still ok.  The Japanese soy wasn't of a good quality...it was very salty, so be careful not to over dip.  One way to balance out the saltiness is to mix it with some sweet sauce. 

We also tried a couple of a la carte menu items like this one, the Salmon Mentaiyaki @ RM14.80, but the salmon was a bit dry and the mentaiko wasn't as luscious.

This was the Tendon @ RM12.80 which was made up of tempura prawns (2 pcs) and tempura vegetables (of eggplant, okra, green bell pepper, pumpkin, yam and sweet potato) with rice. The tempura prawns were ok but the vegetables were not soft enough.  The tempura coating was nothing like the light and crispy versions I've had as the one here is thick but (luckily) it was crispy.  At this price, the bowl of tendon was rather substantial and filling on its own and a value-for-money dish (if you can get past the thick tempura coating).

The Chawanmushi @ RM3.80 was filled with a piece of fish cake, chicken, crab stick, gingko nut and some slices of shiitake mushrooms.  The consistency and flavour was acceptable.
 
The drinks are very cheap as well:
 
Green Tea @ RM1 (refillable)
Orange Juice @ RM3 (not the fresh kind, of course)
 
My Personal Opinion
 
If you can accept the taste of pre-prepared sushi from Aeon, then these will be acceptable to you.  Just think of it being freshly made for you on the spot, 'torching' it for you for that extra smoky flavour and adding mentaiko on top...all at a price that's just a tad higher than Jusco's!  Worth it?  For sure! 
 
Otherwise, where can one eat like 10 plates of sushi and walk out (fully satiated) for about RM25....and that, to me, is one helluva bargain, (so) I'm willing to sacrifice a bit on the flavour department (sometimes).  I'd recommend that you stick to just sushi here as their other Japanese offerings (in their a la carte menu) are not that well executed (and the orders take a while to arrive).  And, if they're able to keep up the standards, they'll be here for the long haul...I've been a regular since.

I think this sushi chain is able to offer edible sushi at low prices by keeping its overhead costs low, opening (mostly) in housing areas (and not leading malls) where the rent is cheaper and there's hardly any competition.  Since opening more than two months ago, they've been enjoying full crowds daily, even on weekdays.  That goes to show people do...and will embrace cheap but edible sushi ;)  Just don't compare it with those higher priced sushi chains...and you'll be alright!

Sushi Mentai
No 9-G Jalan Perubatan 2
Pandan Indah
55100 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 03-2856 0385
 

16 comments:

  1. Jalan Perubatan 2? Which restaurant did they take over from? Eh I didn't notice this place when I was leaving for Penang the other day leh!

    I believe this one can be a success in Penang, after all people here are all for cheap food. And I think most (like me) can't really distinguish much between normal and good sushi, the only reason we go to the more expensive ones are just because they seem more classy. It is mostly about the face factor and not the taste factor.

    I'll wait for them to open here next month and see how it is.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, you seems very familiar with that jalan...I don't know who was previously there but I don't think it was a restaurant.

      You'd be surprised at just how many people can differentiate between normal and good sushi. And the fact that you prefer one sushi chain over another is testimony that you can distinguish between them. Eating for me (and I'm sure for a lot of people too) will always be the taste factor and never the face factor.

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  2. Lots of variety, looks good too - sure would want to try. Went to a franchise chain here - lots on the menu and displays...but the same-coloured plates on the carousel again and again, going round and round, and the one we did not quite fancy. Never went back again. :(

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The sushi chain you went to, if it's the same plates going round and round means there are no takers...ie. no business, that's why they can't put new sushi on the belt.

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  3. Replies
    1. Indeed it is....I think this is the cheapest one by far :)

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  4. I am OK with the prepackaged sushi at Aeon so I would have no problems eating here. Just to remember to pick the ones that have your approval hee..hee...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, PH, you give me too much credit. Of course, you can try any of them....and you should (since they're so cheap anyway) coz what I don't like, you might! ;D

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  5. I'll normally get my grilled saba fix here :P

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, I've not had that yet....perhaps I'll try that next!

      And thanks for dropping by....and commenting :)

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  6. They have an outlet in Sri Petaling too but I don't dare try because I am not sure whether the food is nice or not. I don't like prepackaged sushi at Aeon - the rice is too sweet due to too much sushi vinegar in the rice.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Then I don't think this sushi will suit you....the flavours will be either too sweet or too salty for you :(

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  7. In Elit Avenue Penang branch,Food is equivalent with the price... cheap and bad taste.. not fresh..
    None of the food is tasty
    I would rather pay more for other Japanese restaurant

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, I've heard that this Penang branch is not as good but the one here that I had was alright. Can't expect much from cheap sushi.

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