For many of us, sushi is often reduced to a quick on-the-go snack when we’re going from A to B. But if you’ve ever had absolutely fantastic sushi before, then you’ll know this food can be so much more than sustenance. Luckily, here in Melbourne, we are spoilt for choice when it comes to high-quality sushi made by some of the world’s best chefs.
And even though aren’t a heap of places in Melbourne running Kaiten-zushi (or ‘conveyor belt’ sushi as it’s known), we’ve tracked down the best.
All aboard—here are Melbourne’s best sushi trains.
Sakura Kaiten Sushi
Our top pick for Melbourne’s best sushi train has to be Sakura Kaiten Sushi on Little Collins Street. This is a gem of a restaurant with a cosy setting, warm and friendly servers, and of course, great sushi that really speaks for itself.
Our top picks are the fatty salmon belly sashimi, Wagyu tataki with garlic ponzu dressing, the grilled scallops with mentai (roe) sauce that melts in your mouth and the most tender of unagi. Getting a mention of its own is the perfectly seared grilled salmon nigiri. You might find yourself having two-dozen of these.
Sakura Kaiten Sushi II
You know that Sakura Kaiten Sushi was successful because they opened a second restaurant location on Lonsdale Street. Now although this is the sister restaurant to Sushi Kaiten (one), Sakura Kaiten Sushi II has been able to carve out its own charming and kitschy personality.
From the tiny interior that seems to always be spilling with people, to the Dragon Ball Z paraphernalia that almost fills the entire wall, Sakura Kaiten II is not short of character. Hot tip: The Agedashi Tofu and the Grilled Salmon Nigiri are our favourites.
Tetsujin is located in the upper levels of Emporium and offers fantastic sushi train as well as premium Japanese BBQ. The sushi offerings here are wonderfully fresh, allowing you to pick and choose from the passing train, or order a la carte style to your table.
The wide selection of sashimi, fresh seafood, vegetarian options, and fantastically fatty grilled meats will keep you on your toes throughout the whole meal. The cocktail selection is also fab, including a Sakura cocktail, Kanagawa Tsunami cocktail, Might Atom and Final Fantasy cocktails. Sign us up.
Located in the heart of the CBD, Sushi Hotaru finds a quiet home in the Mid City Arcade. Without a doubt, the star of the show here is the wide selection of fresh fish and meat nigiri options. They’ve got everything ranging from Salmon to Scallop to Scampi. You can’t go wrong.
Our personal recommendations though are the Fresh Oysters, Kingfish Nigiri, Scallop Sashimi and a dreamy and creamy seared Beef nigiri.
Sushi Jiro QV
Located in QV, Sushi Jiro is right in the heart of the city. This sushi joint brings together handcrafted and traditional sushi with a fun twist. Their sushi is crafted by masterful Japanese chefs, who have been training for years in the industry. Their aim here is also to make sushi affordable yet delicious.
Inside, the decor is minimal and the venue is flooded with natural light. Our favourite part though would have to be hanging rings that trail across the ceiling to mimic train handles. Hopefully, you’re as entertained by that as we are. Our recommendation here is the Tobiko Gunkan, Fatty tuna belly inari and Tamago (egg) sushi.
Makato is so much more than just a sushi train place. These guys also specialise in donburi (rice bowl), udon, curry and bento box. For lovers of eel, the Una Don is a fantastically tender eel fillet on rice without being slimy. The Chirashi don is also pretty up-there, with a generous helping a raw fish on sushi rice.
Now, let’s talk sushi. The Hamachi sushi is the perfect bite adorned with yuzu kosho daikon. For a more unique item, the Ebi Cheese Aburi with cheesy mayo is to die for, and the Tuna Kuro Tobiko stuffed with decadent black caviar is an orchestral explosion in your mouth.
Sushi Boto is the newest sushi spot to bless the ever-changing St Collins Lane. This is a sushi train like no other, especially because you’re not getting sushi on a train, but on a boat. Instead of a sushi conveyor belt, there is a literal stream of water that gently carries these little boats down its stream.
We talked to the owner, Ben Luo, who you might know from White Mojo and Hash Speciality Coffee, and he said the idea stemmed from the notion of freshly caught fish that sail right in front of you—fresh as you can ever get. If you’ve got company, we recommend the Sushi Step selection that includes ten uniquely crafted dishes that increase with flavour as you go along. Sushi Boto designed this meal to be eaten in ascending order. You start with the mellow flavours of New Zealand scampi, eventually progressing to the final dish that is decadent and buttery Foie Gras on rice.
Sushi & Nori Collins Square
Unlike Sushi Boto, Sushi & Nori likes to keep it simple. According to them, sushi is simple and is comprised of three main components: fish, seasoned rice and nori. They employ this mantra by utilising the most high-quality ingredients and really letting them shine as they are.
Not only this, but they want to promote healthy eating habits, reduce their environmental impact by using biodegradable products and bring people together through their food. Sushi & Nori’s Omakase style also ensures that only the freshest of products are served to customers, which have been selected daily by the chef. Sushi & Nori are continuously re-shaping their menu in order to provide a variety of seasonal dishes. Delish.
Sushi Hub Swanston
If you’ve ever taken a walk up Swanston street, then you will know that Sushi Hub gets chock-a-block with customers all day long. Now, although these guys are probably churning out tonnes of sushi each day, they still manage to keep the product at such a high-quality and never compromise on the care.
At Sushi Hub, you can pick up something quick from the counter, or, leisurely enjoy a meal at their in-store sushi train. We personally enjoy the crab leg nigiri, the fried ebi and the tempura veggie nigiri.
Hungry for more? Check out the best of Melbourne in our Best Of Guides section.
Image credit: Jenna Fahey-White