Apr 28, 2011

Hi Sushi 海壽司


Address: 台北市忠孝東路四段120號2樓
                 No. 120, Section 4, ZhōngXiào East Rd, Daan District
Phone #: 02-2781-8989
Business Hours: 11:30-14:00, 17:30-21:00
Website: http://www.hisushi.com.tw/
Price Range:   $$$
Accepts Credit Cards: yes
Attire: casual
Good for kids: yes
Take out: yes
Waiter Service: no
Outdoor seating:  no
Alcohol: yes


Food Quality: 4 out of 5
Decor:  4 out of 5
Service: 4 out of 5
Overall: 4 out of 5
Recommendation: Classy Kaiten Sushi


Hi Sushi is a classy kaiten sushi chain that offers good quality sushi, sashimi, and grilled items at a upper-mid level price range. Many items rotate around the track at varying prices, and you can either pick them up from the track or you can order some items directly from the chef. The food quality, decor, and service at Hi Sushi is much higher than the popular low-price kaiten sushi chain Sushi Express. If Sushi Express is the Mcdonalds of kaiten sushi, then Hi Sushi can be considered as The Counter. Since the items range in price, it is not easy to gauge the spending. However, I don't think you can be full without spending around 500 NT here. Visit Hi Sushi for a fast, quality, and comfortable kaiten sushi experience.
While skimming through the recent 2010 best in Taipei results on hungry girl's food blog, I was quite stupid eyed by the fact that Sushi Express made it twice in a row as best sushi/sashimi place. My guess is that most readers who voted for sushi express probably let their wallets decide on what tastes good, because you really can't beat sushi express price and quality control. Even, though they aren't the freshest, at least they have somewhat of a sanitary restaurant and good service. The only places that can beat sushi express in terms of price would be the nightmarket sushi stalls, and those are real nasty.

If i'm not getting the quick and cheap sushi fix at Sushi Express, I would opt for Hi Sushi for a higher quality kaiten sushi experience. As you can see, their Zhong Xiao branch has very chic lighting and table settings in comparison to the cartoony theme at Sushi Express. The clientele seem to be of a more upscale persuasion, and definitely seem to know where to get a quick and good sushi fix. There is a black marble and wood theme to the design of the restaurant space. The countertops are faux marble and the accompanying tableware also fit the theme.
If you choose to dine beside the rotational track then you will get a place setting like you see in the picture above. There are a couple of reasons why this restaurant trumps Sushi Express just right here. The cup is made out of clay, there are 3 types of tea from you to choose from, and most importantly...
No repulsive overly chemically concocted wasabi in ketchup packets. The side items are on a different level than sushi express. All three of their teas are of better quality, and tastes better from the texture of a clay cup. I would be glad to pay twice as much as sushi express for this noticeably big increase of quality. Unlike sushi express where all items are 30 NT. Hi sushi has a color coordinated price scale, which makes a lot more sense because some items should be more expensive than others. A sushi restaurant that offers all items in its store for a price of 30 NT sounds extremely fishy.

Color coded price reference at Hi Sushi in NT:

Just for reference's sake, I ordered a typical nigiri sushi meal that I would get at Sushi Express or at some other type of sushi joint:

I usually get some sort of soup to accompany my sushi exploits. Usually, it is miso soup, but since there are 3 different choices for soup at Hi Sushi, I ordered the Garlic Clam Soup. The soup base has the distinct taste of the little golden Taiwanese clams, but they added a garlic twist to it. Since the garlic was boiled in water it isn't as sharp as it would be in other forms. This soup is good, especially if you love those little clams like me.

 This plate of Salmon Nigiri priced at 60 NT. Honestly, a night out for sushi would not be complete without getting an order of Salmon Nigiri. I love the flavor of the oils and the soft texture of raw salmon. I feel like it is also the most disctinctive in taste, because the salmon has this oily and pungent aroma to it. Notice how beautifully marbled and transparent the pieces of salmon are. There is a visible difference in freshness and quality compared to Sushi Express that deserves the hike in price. You would be lucky to get 2 pieces of Salmon at this quality for $3 in Los Angeles.
 Next up, Yellowtail Nigiri. This is also another must have item when eating sushi. Yellowtail tuna is one of the most savory pieces of fish you can have for a modest price. It is no belly slice, but it costs 80 NT for two of these. This item isn't even offered at sushi express. They can't afford to sell it at 30 NT. Two pieces of this would cost around $3.25 in Los Angeles. Yet, the light pink hue shows that this is a pretty fresh piece of yellowtail. Although, it isn't really fresh because the texture of the meat isn't really melty, but more chewy. I learned to appreciate fresh yellowtail after my ex-manager gave me one he caught on a deep sea fishing trip. After cutting it up and eating the raw meat like a bear, I understood how oily, soft and melty, and pungent fresh yellowtail is. Hi Sushi will get you a lot more closer to it than Sushi Express ever will.
 I really like Salmon, and I also like Salmon babies. This Salmon Roe Sushi is another item I can not go without when dining on sushi. This plate is 100 NT. Although they offer it at Sushi Express for 30 NT, the difference in price is evident in the quality of the salmon roe. The salmon roe at Hi Sushi are more translucent and puffy. The flavor of the Roe may taste similar, but you get more of a pop from these. You are also given a more generous portion. Look how sad the Sushi Express one is in comparison.
 Another item, which is more of a filler to me is the Tuna Nigiri. This one is also 60 NT per order. I don't really taste the Tuna at all. It's more of a texture paired with rice and wasabi for this thing. I may have to try to pay more attention to this, but I never really noticed a particular taste to regular old Tuna.
I also felt like getting an order of Scallop Nigiri. The pieces of scallop were very full, tasted fresh, and carried the taste of the sea. The texture of the scallop is interesting, although the flavor is not as pronounced when it is raw. It is very mushy and not and stringy in this form.
I was pretty disappointed at the poor quality of their Sea Urchin Roe. It seemed darker and sliced up into itty bitty pieces. The taste did not have a fresh, crisp, fishy, buttery notes to it. It is still better than the sushi express ones, but at the price of 120 NT, I guess I can't complain. These typically run at around $7 dollars for 1 in most sushi restaraunts in LA. Even better quality ones can be priced at even around $15. So, I it must be kind of silly to expect something extraordinary for 120 NT. I do not recommend ordering the sea urchin roe here. Save that 120 NT and get it some place else. The Sea Urchin Roe at Beautiful Garden in Xi Men Ding were a lot better and at the same price.

All in all, I think Hi Sushi is a better option for Sushi/Sashimi in Taipei than Sushi Express. It is not ridiculous in terms of price, and it has much better service, decor, and food quality. This is definitely a good place for that quick sushi fix. It just isn't as cheap and ubiquitous as Sushi Express. This is pretty much a post bashing Sushi Express because I was appalled that it still stands as number one on the 2010 polls.

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