Sushi Mentai

Since its opening at Elit Avenue, Sushi Mentai (寿司明太) has been enjoying more than its fair share of customers. Especially on weekends, it is common to see people waiting outside for seats to become available.
Sushi Mentai operates in the kaiten sushi (回転寿司) niche, similar to Sushi King and Sakae Sushi, but at more affordable price point. There are two colors for plates on the conveyer belt: pink (RM1.80) and red (RM2.80). Sushi Mentai keeps the price low through economies of scale. For example, it uses a sushi machine to "hand-press" rice for nigirizushi (握り寿司). Each type of sushi is prepared in large batches, therefore saving manpower and wastage.

The first choice for my lunch is Hana Ebiko (花えびこ, RM2.80). The clump of rice is wrapped with a slice of raw salmon, then topped with shrimp roe. The sushi is reminiscent of a flower, which is why it is called "Hana" (花).
Gunkan sushi (軍艦寿司) is a type of sushi where the outer piece of seaweed (海苔) resembles the hull of a warship (軍艦). For Tako Wasabi (タコ山葵, RM2.80), the center consists of sushi rice, boiled baby octopus (タコ) and a hint of wasabi (山葵).
Named after the titular Shinto god, inari (稲荷) or sweetened bean curd skin is a popular ingredient for sushi. Inari Mentai (稲荷明太, RM1.80) goes one step further by adding cream cheese on top, which is then melted using a butane torch.
Tamago Mentai (玉子明太, RM1.80) is also briefly torched before serving. Sweetened omelette is held on top of rice with a piece of seaweed. Katsuobushi (鰹節), or smoked skipjack tuna, is also added on top for some savory appeal.
Spicy Chicken Floss (スパイシーロウソン, RM1.80) is a gunkan sushi which uses a Chinese-style ingredient: chicken floss. The chicken floss has moderate spiciness in addition to sweetness. This sushi is unique and is worth trying.
Goma Chu Maki (ゴマちゅ巻き, RM1.80) contains cucumber and crab stick (カニカマ) at the core. The exterior surface is coated with black and white sesame seeds.
In addition to kaiten sushi, I opted for something more staple: Tori Katsu Curry Rice (チキンカツカレー丼, RM13.80). A piece of deep-fried chicken cutlet is cut into strips, then topped with Japanese-style curry. Shibazuke (柴漬) or pickled cucumber is provided on the side. This rice dish includes a bowl of miso soup (味噌汁).
Unfortunately, I find the curry to be quite lacking in terms of flavor. Ideally, it should have savory flavor that is not surfeiting even if consumed extendedly. Then again, I believe Sushi Mentai's strongest suit lies in sushi; other dishes are just meant to be supplementary.
Hot Green Tea (お茶, RM1.00) is self-poured from a jar. There are other drinks on the menu but I always feel that tea is the only one that is compatible with sushi.
Sushi Mentai obviously appeals to the cost-sensitive crowd, but the bill adds up quickly because it is too tempting to grab a plate from the conveyer belt. Nevertheless, I am impressed by the number of sushi types it offers under the premise of mass production. As long as it maintains food quality, Sushi Mentai is a reasonable place for a quick bite - if only it is not as crowded as this.

Address: 1-1-33A, Elit Avenue, Jalan Mayang Pasir 3, 11950 Bayan Baru, Pulau Pinang
Contact: 04-638-3233
Business hours: 12:00pm-10:00pm

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