Remember when I felt disappointed with my first encounter with Penang’s very first Sushi Mentai outlet some months ago? Well, guess what, I am feeling generous today, so I finally worked up enough mojo (more like courage) to give them another chance for today’s dinner.
The queues have ceased for some weeks now, so I was able to get a table very easily. Not a good sign, this. I managed to sit next to the sushi bar, where 2 chefs were making tonnes of sushi.
See that white machine? That’s the machine that turns the rice into sushi lumps. They basically got a bunch of rice lumps from the machine and their job is to lay different toppings on the rice lumps.
Armed with the knowledge that they have a separate menu for sushi, I was prepared to demand for that. But I need not. This time, it was given to me upfront. Yeah, improvement…
I had a early lunch today, and I was really hungry. So I ordered a main course. I already know to avoid their shrimp tempura items (their ebi tempura are the frozen types), so I went for this instead.
Good move. Turns out, there are things that does not have the form of frozen and processed packs even if restaurants want to. Chicken being one of them. So my katsu don turned out to be alright, although slightly on the dry side.
Anyway, let’s talk about the sushi. With the sushi menu in hand, I completely ignored the rotating belt and placed orders for 4 types of sushi. And I went mentai all the way.
This has got nothing to do with my mood, but I find their sushi quality is much better this time. Remember last time I said their sushi fell apart upon contact with my chopstick? It wasn’t an exaggeration, it was a really literal description.
But this time, the sushi survived my chopstick’s touch. Yes, they are still extremely crumbly and require delicate care, but at least you have got a chance to carry each of the pieces into your mouth with a pair of chopstick. My first visit, I had ZERO chance of doing that (because they fell apart upon touch). So that’s a very big improvement there. Nice…
The best part? Mentai makes everything better when it comes to sushi, so I was really having a good time putting each piece of sushi into my mouth. I’m not saying the sushi here are great and gourmet level. No, they’re not. But at least, with the right expectations, they’re alright. I mean, cheap sushi with mentai topping, they’re awesome in their own rights! By the way, mentai (mentaiko) means marinated fish roe sauce that is quite expensive and very popular in Japan.
One thing that kind of ruined my experience this time though, I ordered the hotate (scallop) mentai, but the tamago (egg) mentai came instead. When I informed the waiter that he got my order wrong, he apologized and took that plate away, only for another waiter to come back with the same tamago mentai 15 minutes later. Sigh… I could probably have made a scene, but then I am feeling generous today, so I let it slide and accepted the plate. I have already established that their egg rolls are utterly bland and hence utterly horrible. It was still the same. Thankfully, mentai makes everything better…
I did enjoy this meal though, as a whole. Last time, I came expecting gourmet sushi because I was misled by bad food blogs, and got cheap sushi that are horrible even by cheap sushi standards. Today, I came expecting cheap sushi, and I got cheap sushi that are decent by cheap sushi standards. I’m happy. I think I will come back again for more… 🙂