116 Bell Street
Coburg, VIC 3058
What do sushi and car washes have in common? Quite a lot as it turns out. My drive to and from work every day takes me past Star Sushi Bar and Hand Car Wash, and I’ll admit that it took all of half a second for my lip to curl in disgust. My head was immediately filled with images of limp nori, congealed mayo, and fish slowly turning grey and smelly inside the airless glass cabinet.
Then get this: a couple months after my first sighting, Broadsheet comes out with an article waxing lyrical about Star Sushi Bar and Hand Car Wash – and they weren’t talking about how clean their cars were either. Business seemed to really pick up after this piece of publicity; I mean, I was certainly convinced enough to give it a go, which is saying something given my initial reaction.
As you’d expect, interior of this little shop is pretty sparse, but I actually appreciated the calm and quiet – a stark contrast to the bustle of Bell Street. The range of sushi available is impressive, and quickly deviated from the standard avocado rolls into some imaginative concoctions. There is also a large selection of rice and noodle dishes, though if you look closely, they’re all variations on a couple of themes – teriyaki, katsu, and curry. One interesting thing I did notice was the complete absence of pork, but that makes sense, given the large Muslim population this end of town.
To start off, we ordered a plate of Salmon Nigiri ($1.5ea). Although not the most breathtaking salmon I’ve ever had, each piece was ribboned with fat, and the result was silken and fatty. Unfortunately, there was one enormous shortcoming on these nigiri – the rice was not sushi rice, but plain steamed rice! Although not something I normally think about, you really do notice the lack of vinegar, and it left the sushi tasting bland as a result.
Next up was something a little less traditional – the Lion King($9.5), which is arguably their most popular roll. Despite being entirely untraditional, this was an extremely tasty roll. The ooey-gooey centre of crab and avocado was rich and creamy, but it was the smoky seared salmon draped over the top that sealed the deal. Now if only it had that vinegared rice to give it that extra layer of flavour!
I’ve always felt sorry for curry, being so unphotogenic, but the Beef Curry ($10.5) broke the mould with just how beautiful it was. The colourful stir-fry of meat and veggies mingled with a thick pool of curry sauce and a scattering of sesame seeds, just begging to be mixed together with the rice.
Although this isn’t the best curry I’ve ever had, it’s everything a curry should, and needs to be. It was rich, sticky, and rib-hugging, with plenty of crisp veggies and tender beef to mix with the sauce.
It is so heartening to see suburbs that are usually known for having a large proportion of one ethic group (like Glen Waverley) branch out into other culinary cultures. Star Sushi Bar may not be the best or most authentic Japanese restaurant around, but it sure is great being able to get some solid sushi up in the north.
Rating: 13/20 – hakuna matata!
This rating reflects my personal experience at the time of visit.