'Zanmai' means luxury in Japanese. At Sushi Zanmai though, thankfully it doesn't mean eye-watering prices. Edwan checks out one of the most popular sushi chains in KL...
Luxury flavours, not-so-luxury prices. Good!
Affordable, menu offers plenty of choices, fresh seafood
Weekends and peak hours causes lines
Sushi - maybe many years ago thought of as weird and unappetizing (raw fish, ZOMG no!) in Malaysia - is now a firm favourite for a lot of us. Part of it has been because it's become relatively affordable, even in KL (I remember a time when the only sushi restaurants were specialty ones, where you pay a bomb). Just go to any shopping complex and you'll find at least one conveyor belt sushi place. One of the best is of course, Sushi Zanmai.
Sushi Zanmai started operating a few years back and now have dozens of outlets across Malaysia.
This is the outlet at Avenue K, Jalan Ampang
Zanmai means 'luxury' but don't let that put you off: their shtick is to offer quality sushi at affordable prices.
All of their restaurants are very elegantly decorated and is often dominated by a glass-walled kitchen and that conveyor belt.
A train of sushi.
You can pick from the belt of course, where the sushi served there is priced around RM3 to RM7 per plate depending on type. Or if you're lazy or don't see what you want or got seated too far away then just order off their menu. The sushi selection is the same but there are other things to sink your teeth into.
Salmon sashimi here is very fresh and pleasantly lacking in that just defrosted texture some places are guilty of.
Mmmm raw fish.
They handle the fish well too as each slice is neat and doesn't look like it's been hacked with a saw. Choose from the variety of nigiri sushis: salmon is de rigeur but the unagi and tuna are no joke either.
This tempura prawn nigiri sushi was a delight as well: the prawn was sweet and coated in a light, airy and crispy tempura batter.
All the fish tastes clean and aren't watery or diluted in flavour.
If you can't stomach raw fish maybe you can have it lightly cooked? Then the Aburi sushi is for you.
Each piece of seafood on the sushi is lightly torched so you get the full fish flavour but only half the raw-ness. The torching brings out some lovely umami flavours out of the fish. Try their various rolls too. Sushi Zanmai has many kinds with all kinds of fillings and toppings like avocado, cod roe mayonnaise and so on but I loved the simplicity of a deep fried soft shell crab, wrapped in sushi rice and tobikko (flying fish roe).
Go crazy with the sushis if you want; there are literally so many kinds it's impossible for just one person to go through at one sitting. But trust me, I've tried most of them and they're good. Even a simple bowl of udon with soup is deliciously satisfying.
It's warm and very hearty even though it's light in texture. The soup had really good body to it, like a well simmered stock.
How about some steak? No, you read that right. This is still a review of Sushi Zanmai but boy oh boy do they do a mean steak.
Tasty steak from a sushi restaurant. Now I've seen them all.
They always nail your required doneness to a tee and the sirloin steak comes sliced and basted in a savoury, umami-rich and absolutely mouth-watering teriyaki glaze. A sprinkling of crispy fried garlic further boosts those meaty flavours.
Other stuff rounds up the menu. There are various rice-boxes (donburi), noodles and set meals with a bit of everything in for the undecisive diner. All foods are priced at a reasonable level and for the quality you get, Sushi Zanmai is definitely one of the best kaiten-sushi (that's conveyor belt to you and me) joints in town. Just bear in mind the lines can get ridiculously long at peak hours, especially at their more established outlets such as One Utama.