The basement food court of the Sogo Department Store on Fuxing South Road (復興南路) in Taipei, is understandably a popular place for a quick sit-down meal, given that the building is directly connected to Zhongxiao Fuxing MRT Station (忠孝復興捷運站). But if even five minutes is too long to wait for lunch or dinner at one of the many food vendors on floor B2, there’s always self-serve sushi.
Nakayoshi (中與志) is a restaurant chain that runs a conveyor belt sushi bar on floor B3, just outside of the City’super supermarket. It charges higher prices than the ubiquitous chain Sushi Express (爭鮮迴轉壽司), with color-coded plates ranging from NT$40 to NT$280. But the quality of Nakayoshi’s food is a few notches higher.
I make regular visits and find that the fish always tastes fresh, with standards like the salmon (鮭魚) and tuna (鮪魚) nigiri (握壽司) rolls worth the NT$60 per serving. The menu is extensive and full of exotic items such as the queen crab (松葉蟹, NT$120) and rudderfish great amberjack (紅甘, NT$80) nigiri rolls. There is an equally large selection of warship sushi (軍艦壽司), which are offered with delicacies such as sea urchin (海膽, NT$180) and cod liver (鱈魚肝, NT$80).
The restaurant also offers a few perks that other conveyor belt sushi places don’t have, such as freshly ground wasabi. If you sit in the right spot, you can smell it wafting from behind the bar. And diners can even grind their own salt, with the revolving cart offering trays full of clumps of hard salt rock and hand graters.
A meal at Nakayoshi can get expensive pretty fast. If you’re watching your wallet, stick with the green or yellow dishes, which are NT$40 and NT$60. (There are also NT$60 plates adorned with Hello Kitty graphics). One item I often get is the skipjack tuna nigiri (鰹魚, NT$60), which I like for the flavor of the fish (a bit more tender than regular tuna) and its toppings of finely chopped scallion and ginger. The restaurant puts a little less rice in its nigiri rolls than Sushi Express, but diners can request bigger portions (“33 percent more” according to a sign at the table) at no extra charge.
Address: B3, 300, Zhongxiao E Rd Sec 3, Taipei City (台北市忠孝東路三段300號B3)
Telephone: (02) 8772-2228
Open: Open from 11am to 9pm
Details: English and Chinese menu, credit cards accepted
I also like Nakayoshi’s unusual take on inarizushi (稻荷, NT$40), or rice tucked inside fried tofu skin. The restaurant’s version of this sushi staple has a stronger vinegar flavor and is much sweeter. Another item I often get is the cold spinach with sesame vinaigrette dressing (涼伴菠菜, NT$40), which can be hit or miss — sometimes the dressing is not mixed properly and other times the restaurant replaces the spinach with another vegetable. Other green vegetable options include the asparagus sushi hand roll (蘆筍手卷, NT$40) and the shrimp salad (鮮蝦沙拉, NT$80).
Nakayoshi also has a few off-menu items, most of them deep-fried or tempura treats. I was not very impressed with the mini-tempura shrimp on rice (NT$80), which was cold and would have tasted better if made to order. But I did like the cod fish croquettes (NT$40) on offer last week. Round out your meal with a bowl of fish miso soup (鮮魚味噌湯, NT$60), which is laden with generous chunks of salmon. Watch out for the bones, though.
Nakayoshi is actually two restaurants, with a neighboring sit-down area that serves set meals with rice that range from NT$280 to NT$580. Some fail-safe choices are the grilled mackerel set (烤鯖魚定食, NT$280) and the salmon and salmon roe rice bowl (鮭魚親子丼, NT$320). Don’t bother with the overpriced imperial set meal (御膳料理, NT$580), which comes with a main course of steamed fish.