235 King St
Newtown, NSW 2042
I was craving some easy sushi, and seeing as Sushi Hotaru has been leaving me wanting more often than not these days, I decided to expand my horizons a little. Armed with an old recommendation for Sushi Wow in Newtown, I decided to get over my mental block for the name – seriously, what kind of name is Sushi Wow? – and actually try it based on its merits as a sushi train.
When I first walked in, I was quite impressed (wowed?). But it’s not the interior that caught my attention; the place basically looks like your standard sushi train restaurant, albeit a clean and welcoming one. What I was impressed with was the sushi train itself, which tottered with plates stacked with a good variety of generously-sized, fresh-looking sushi. You’d think this would be the bare minimum, but I’ve seen so much sad sushi train offerings going around (and around and around) that this is a breath of fresh air.
Salmon Nigiri ($3.5) is my barometer for the quality of a sushi train, but unfortunately this one is just average. The salmon is passably fresh and passably thick, but definitely won’t make you jump for joy. The rice however was surprisingly good – slightly warm and seasoned just-so with sushi vinegar – exactly how I remember having it in Japan.
I’ve also started using Scallop Nigiri ($4.5) as a secondary barometer, and it was just as well, because this was much more in line with the rest of our meal. That’s to say, pretty good, especially for the price. The scallops were plump and sweet, and definitely worth eating on its own without any additional condiments (soy aside, of course).
I’m not usually a fan of Tuna Nigiri ($5), but like any typical millennial, I was sold by the addition of avocado. This was also better than I had expected; I’m used to sushi train tuna being almost watery from being frozen then thawed, but this actually had some discernible flavour, and was further improved by the addition of avocado and a spoonful of briny flying fish roe.
I love California Rolls ($3.5), and that is a hill I will die on, so K can suck it. This one was lovely, the thick pieces of crab stick, egg omelette and avocado held together by just enough rice, and covered with a generous coating of roe. It’s the simple pleasures, you know?
However I am apparently also a hypocrite, because I will always look down on Chris and his must-order of Tamago Nigiri ($3). He claims that sweet egg omelette on rice is so very good, and yes, this one is certainly up to scratch, but why eat this when you could be having so many other things!
For example, this delectable Aburi Spicy Scallop Nigiri ($5). The scallop nigiri itself was good, and I’m happy to have it as is, but there’s no denying that a once-over with a blow torch and a generous amount of spicy mayo and sweet soy hits pretty much every dopamine receptor there is.
The Karaage ($4) is usually more of a filler dish at sushi train, but not in this case. Not only was it generously portioned and still warm, the batter was well-seasoned, the spices augmented by an addictive chilli mayo.
I grabbed this little Salmon and Roe ($5.5) beauty off the train all for myself – perks of having a partner that isn’t super crazy about plain raw seafood! If you think thickly sliced salmon, wrapped around a mouthful of rice and topped with fish roe sounds good, you’d be absolutely right. The decadent butteriness of the salmon paired well with the briny depths of roe, the distinctions in flavour separated cleanly by the vinegared rice.
For a bit of a palate cleanser, I grabbed the Vegetarian Roll ($4.5). This was much better than it sounded on paper, the combination of creamy avocado, crunchy cucumber, and salty wakame making for a surprisingly broad range of textures and flavours. The tofu wrapping – inari – also turned out to be a clever addition, its heartier mouthfeel and mild sweetness adding an extra dimension to the composition that the usual seaweed would not have provided.
This one was only taken off the train to satisfy my curiosity, as I couldn’t work out for the life of me what it was. Turns out it was a sort of Katsu Nigiri ($4), topped with avocado and lemon aioli. Aside from being a bit dry, it wasn’t that bad, but it’s definitely a sushi for people who don’t like sushi.
Wanting to finish on a high note, I decided on the Aburi Salmon and Scallop ($5). This was every bit as good as I had hoped, the indulgent combination of salmon and scallop enhanced further as the fat was caramelised by the blowtorch. Drizzled with sweet soy, I firmly believe this would make a convert of any seafood-hater.
I don’t know if Sushi Wow is considered one of the best places in Sydney for sushi train, but it definitely is leaps and bounds ahead of places like Sushi Hotaru and Sushi Rio. The seafood is much fresher, relies much less on heavy sauces, and aren’t just sliced into the thinnest pieces possible. And despite not having standardised pricing for their plates, the total only ended up being a couple dollars more than what I usually pay, thanks to the more generous portions, and the fact that each plate only costs between $3 and $5.5 anyway. The variety here may be a little less impressive than its larger competitors, but given that I usually end up eating mostly the same things every time, this is my new go-to for sure.
Rating: 13.5/20 – i guess the name is ok, i suppose.
This rating reflects my personal experience at the time of visit.