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“Value Price, More than Average Food, the worst Melbourne Japanese food experience”
Review of Sushi Hotaru

Sushi Hotaru
Ranked #1,075 of 4,330 Restaurants in Melbourne
Cuisines: Japanese
Neighborhood: Chinatown
Restaurant details
Neighborhood: Chinatown
Reviewed July 10, 2014

I wanted to come in with 3 friends for dinner. 2 of us was there early while the other 2 was on their way from work. The waitress advised us very strongly that they won't let us in despite the fact that all their booths were empty.

We said 'Okay, we'll wait for our friends to come instead'. After about 15 minutes, a friend came. Waiting for the other one to come, we are already hungry at this point and we said, can we take the booth and order food while waiting? They again advise us strongly that they won't, even if ALL booths are empty, they can only offer us 3 seats at thr bar. And we said okay.

We sat down and started eating. The couple next to us was just finished and I was told my friend has reached Bourke St, literally just 2 minutes away. I asked the waitress to keep 1 seat for a friend and she said 'No problem'. As the couple walked out, the same waitress conveniently brought another chair, asked us to shift a little and served in 3 people.

I was confused and asked them 'Didn't you agree to keep this one for my friend?' At this point, my friend is already at the entrance of the restaurant. They now say 'No, we can't'.

In summary, I think their food is above average (6.5 to 7 / 10) and value for money is great too BUT this kind of service has made Sushi Hotaru at the bottom of my to-go Japanese restaurants in Melbourne.

    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
2  Thank hsoetikno
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed July 6, 2014

As indicated by other reviewers, this place is not easy to locate if you go there by yourself for the first time. Best if you tag along someone who know where the restaurant is for the first time.

Also, as mentioned by other reviewers, be prepare to wait if you go during lunch or dinner time. And seating can be pretty restricted as the waiter or waitress will only seat you accordingly to the number of people of your group attending the place.

If you want a good time to get a seat (without queuing), it will be just before 11.30a.m. when the shop just started for business or go during off peak times (between lunch and dinner). This does not guarantee that you will not queue though. Perhaps shorter.

Been to this place since the opening for a number of times with different group of friends, family or by myself. Food quality is average for most things at a cheaper price ($3) for most normal dish. It is more towards a budget Japanese cuisine place. Don't expect too much compare to the good and more expensive ones which I've been to in other parts of Melbourne or Australia.

However, I like the atmosphere and the dishes are always fresh. Staffs are usually friendly. Some can be a bit rigid in the way of thinking especially when it come to sitting (you don't get to choose and you can't negotiate - I tried a few times before).

Good place to go at least once if you're visiting Melbourne. Also, a good place for people to hang out and enjoy the japanese food at a budget. Plus the staffs usually don't rush you out the door unless it's closing for the day.

    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Thank sarikei s
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 22, 2014

We got here at 2pm and wondered why there were a few people waiting outside as we could see there were empty tables inside so we walked in and waited to be "served". The young Japanese girl (not smiling) came towards us and did not even greet us.
We said "table for 2" and all she did was flipped her paper and started writing down and was about to hand out a number.
We asked why and if there was a queue. She said there were about 5 "tables/people" ahead of us. We then had to ask how long was the wait. She said about 30 mins. Then we asked why there is a queue when there were empty tables and if we could have the tables. She replied saying the tables are only for 4 people so all those people out there waiting could not have the table. So my husband lost his cool and said "what if there are NO 4 people coming along, would no one be seated at all?" She replied that she only works there and cannot help us.
So what happens if we had waited 30 mins but 4 people comes along, do they just waltz in and get the table straight away whilst we all have to wait 30 mins?
We have NEVER heard of ANY places that would turn away customers and not let them have a table. Better let a table of 4 for 2 people than NOT have any business at all.
Better still, We could make up the table of 4 with another 2 people waiting outside!!
I told my hubby that he was wasting his time reasoning with her because firstly she is just a young worker there and secondly, being Japanese, she will not dare make changes but just follow the rules.
This is totally ridiculous. Now not only have they lost 2 customers for good, we are going to tell everyone about this and they will loose more customers.
They had better sort out this problem if they want to stay in business.
Also $3 per plate is NOT cheap. You can get less than that per plate (depending on what you order of course) elsewhere.
We won't bother coming here! Bad service. No apologies from her at all too.
Where is the customer skills? NONE apparently!

    • Service
6  Thank Tweetcoz
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 11, 2014 via mobile

Sushi Hotaru offers a Sushi Train experience with a fun ordering system. Each patron is provided an ipad screen (or half of it) to access the menu and order an item if it is not going around on the train. With pictures and labels for each item, this makes ordering easier for those not familiar with Japanese terms. Food is good for its price ($3/plate). Prepare to wait to be seated though, as there is always a line outside. At certain times, the shop closes off their sit down tables, and only allows the train to pass through the counter tops, even when there are still people waiting outside. Not sure why though.

Thank Dianne Jean T
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 18, 2013 via mobile

The place is not easy to find (its on the second level of the Midtown shopping mall off Bourke street). However it's crowded most of the time, probably due to the cheap price (3$ for plate) and lack of reasonably priced competition in Melbourne city area. The quality is average, first of all the rice in the nigiri is not shaped properly so it looks like a ball therefore some nigiri look quite "sad" and of course the taste is affected as well because of that. Secondly, the quality of fish differs a lot, some was very fresh (scallop, scampi) others less so (tuna).
So in short, if you want to stuff yourself with lots of cheap and reasonable sushi this is the place to go. If you are looking for quality look somewhere else and be prepared to pay more for it.

1  Thank Ilya I
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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