Conveyor belt sushi was inspired by 1950s beer manufacturing. The sushi train is high turnover food production: rapid supply and low dwell time. Perfect for Japan’s large population.
Kosaten Japanese on Salamanca’s Castray Esplanade has taken a more personalised approach. Instead of selecting from a stream of dishes as they travel past, you order from an a la carte menu and the dishes are delivered directly from the kitchen to you. Shikansen-style.
This Girl spoke to Michael, one of the three owners of Kosaten, who told me the idea behind the restaurant was to bring new sushi to Hobart.
“The building had been available for lease for some time. When we looked inside and saw how beautiful it was we knew we wanted to do something different,” Michael said.
Kosaten opened last September off the back of the already successful Bento Box which the team have been operating for around two years.
“We did our research. We went back to Japan and gathered ideas from Tokyo. We were really impressed by what they were doing and thought it would work in Hobart too. Because our train doesn’t keep going around, it’s fresher,” Michael said.
Michael told me that kosaten means a pedestrian crossing and refers to the massive intersection outside Shibuya station, possibly the largest in the world. It’s listed by Time magazine as one of the ten things you should do if you visit Tokyo. It’s literally a sea of people moving across a vast expanse of road to another side.
“We also looked at the sushi trains in Sydney and Melbourne where the food and flavours are more international. They tend to use ingredients from all over the world. Our chef is from Melbourne and he also knows Western food. We want to make sure we keep giving people new food that crosses between the East and West,” Michael said.
Kosaten is dressed in black and red and its sophisticated design encourages you to dwell. The bullet train food delivery is more about fun than efficiency although there’s only a small front of house contingent. Once you’re seated you won’t see a lot of them again until you pay.
It was my regular catch-up with Lovely Cathy. In typical This Girl mode, I was already photographing someone else’s food when she arrived. That would be Josh and Troy, plumbers from Launceston, who were enjoying a meal and who had helped build Kosaten and their other businesses, Bento Box.
It’s not true big blokes don’t like sushi. These guys gave us some tips on how and what to order. They were tucking into the tuna tataki at the time. They demonstrated the iPad with a menu that is good enough to include pictures so you can see what you’re ordering.
What we ate:
- Kingfish sashimi with chilli and lime sauce, $12
- Deep fried prawn with apple mayo, $5
- Aburi coconut prawn, $5
- Pork belly, $6
- Soba salad, $8
- Teriyaki chicken, $9
And two piccolos of unremarkable sparkling – we were both driving and it seemed like a good idea at the time.
The Kingfish is sweet sophistication and the accompanying sauce was light while adding a little flare. I’m always surprised by apple and prawn but I think it works because the light acidity is refreshing against the richness of the prawn meat.
The aburi coconut prawn was the stand out. The lime, chilli and coconut flavours reflect a pan-Asian approach and were a knockout. Lovely Cathy looked on with bemusement as This Girl picked the fat out of the pork belly. It was delicious and succulent but I have a love hate relationship with that cut.
The final course of chicken and salad was a great way to finish the meal. The luscious, life-full teriyaki sauce was well suited to the light, cold soba and sesame salad.
What we learnt:
Like any restaurant, you might be encouraged to order your entire meal in one go. The ordering system makes this easy to do. We found that the three or four plates ordered in this manner all came out at the same time. It’s worth noting depending on how you want to eat.
We ordered the soba salad early on and it came with the teriyaki chicken which we ordered last. The sequence of ordering didn’t necessarily reflect the sequence the food rolled out but we really enjoyed eating the chicken and salad which worked really well together.
In the future, This Girl would order two plates at a time. In this way, you enjoy more than a morsel at a time and you can pace your meal to suit yourself.
The food and experience were really enjoyable. The restaurant has a lovely aesthetic and the very tasty Japanese cuisine is a winner. What you lose in the personal interaction and connection with wait staff you gain in a more private, entertaining experience.
The meal was just over $30 each but reduced to under $25 each with the Entertainment Book discount.
Find them on Facebook – Kosaten Japanese Restaurant