The opening of Gochi Church Street Japan Kitchen had provided office folks in the Central Business District yet another dining option within the area, with its variety of Japanese establishments situated within its compounds.
Having visited Unaemon in the same compounds fairly recently, we made a return trip to Gochi Church Street Japan Kitchen for Chojiro. Also hailing from Japan, Chojiro is a notable conveyor belt sushi restaurant which boasts a number of outlets across Japan, having its roots from Osaka, Japan. The branch located at Gochi Church Street Japan Kitchen is their very first international outlet; occupying a mid-sized space, Chojiro offers diners both counter seats and booth seats beside the conveyor belt, whilst also giving patrons a choice to sit further into the restaurant away from the conveyor belts behind the food preparation area. Skimming through the menu, one would find that Chojiro’s menu is pretty varied; the establishment does not only serve up various types of sushi but also does carry a rather wide selection of hot choices from its “Speed Menu”, “Grilled Items”, and “Fried Items” menu, just to mention a few. Chojiro also offers quite a selection of beverages as well; apart from the usual non-alcoholic selection such as tea, they do also carry alcoholic items such as Shochu and Sake as well apart from others.
(Kyoto-Style Pressed Mackerel Sushi)
One of the less common sushi found here would be the Kyoto-Style Pressed Mackerel Sushi. The sushi comes pretty chunky; the fish being fresh yet providing a good bite, while the sushi rice is well-flavoured with a slight hint of sweetness without being particularly overwhelming. The sushi rice also seems to hold up pretty well, considering how the sushi did not break apart despite us having to enjoy it in two bites. An item which we would most certainly go for again.
(Deep Fried Eggplant with Dengaku Miso)
Also another item off the selection of sushi which seems to be a rare find, the Deep Fried Eggplant with Dengaku Miso does seem to look pretty interesting on its menu illustration, though comes off a little different in reality. That being said, the Deep Fried Eggplant with Dengaku Miso is pretty much an eye-opener, considering how the sushi comes with a vegetable being the main star instead of the usual sashimi. Carrying a light crisp on the exterior, the Deep-Fried Eggplant does leave the lips smacking of oil from its greasiness but provides an interesting chew with a just a very subtle hint of savouriness to go along with the well-packed sushi rice beneath. A pretty interesting item to have.
(Seared Salmon Sushi)
The Seared Salmon Sushi would fit well with those who prefer more conventional items; in fact, such choices are aplenty on the menu. The Seared Salmon was satisfying, and would certainly fit well for those that enjoy something simple and satisfying without being too adventurous.
Going for the Chojiro Roll, the Chojiro Roll seems to be their rendition of the California Roll but with their own unique twist. Available in half or full portions, we went for the full portion, which saw the Chojiro Roll come in a 4-piece serving size. The Maki Sushi seems to have come with condiments such as cucumber, Tamago, Ikura, salmon, and tuna. On first look, the Chojiro Roll seems to be a job rushed off the sushi counter considering we were there nearly to Chojiro’s closing time of 9.00pm; the portion served to us came with one of the pieces being flattened and coming pretty out-of-shape. While the flavours were considerably decent with the Tamago providing a hint of sweetness, mayo lacing up all the ingredients for a creamy texture and the cucumber giving a crunch, the sushi was generally soft and lacked a firm bite; packed slightly loose as compared to the other sushi mentioned prior. An item which probably needs more attention to detail on the menu.
We also tried the Chojiro Plate; essentially a selection of various dishes served up in a single platter. The Chojiro Plate offers shredded crab meat, assorted vegetable tempura, a small serving of their Avocado Sushi Bowl, Ikura on Sushi Rice, Chicken Karage, side salad, and the Seared Kyoto-style Pressed Mackerel Sushi. Going for the Seared Kyoto-style Pressed Mackerel Sushi first, we noticed how the sushi rice felt a little loose as compared to that of the Kyoto-Style Pressed Mackerel Sushi that we have had earlier; the fish also being smaller-sized and less chunky in comparison as well. That being said, the fish carried its distinct smokiness; its natural flavour that is signature to its own when being served seared or grilled which provides the sushi with much of its taste along with the lightly vinegared rice beneath. Moving on to the Chicken Karage, we enjoyed how the chunk of fried chicken served carried a crisp exterior, whilst juicy and succulent within yet carrying a good bite; the flavours from the rice wine vinegar used in its marination process being rather distinct elsewhere. Apart from the Chicken Karage and the Kyoto-Style Pressed Mackerel Sushi, the rest of the items, whilst being a great sampler to try out the various dishes that Chojiro has to offer, was pretty much average and nothing much to shout about; the most memorable probably being the Ikura on Sushi Rice which provides a burst of umami flavour atop the lightly vinegared sushi rice, itself being an item that is probably safe and difficult to mess up. A platter which we would not mind skipping.
Whilst being advertised as affordable, Chojiro is perhaps less affordable as the press mentions it to be. No doubt there are a number of wallet-friendly items to choose from, but these items make up only a small percentage of what Chojiro serves up; the rest being priced slightly above that of the commercial sushi joints such as Ichiban Sushi or Sakae Sushi. While we do have to agree that the produce used at Chojiro is pretty fresh, the meal felt like it went downwards pretty quickly; the meal started off on a high with the various sushis, but it certainly felt like hot food and Donburi is not quite their thing; the inconsistency in quality also seemed to be pretty stark as we had more of our orders served up the table. It could be due to the fact that we have had our meal pretty late and near the closing time of the shop, but the dip in quality, especially between the Kyoto-Style Pressed Mackerel Sushi and the Seared Kyoto-style Pressed Mackerel Sushi, was pretty surprising especially considering how Chojiro is a Japanese establishment run by Japanese chefs. Having queued for a while to try Chojiro, we felt that the sushi may be Chojiro’s forte, but the experience with the hot food leaves us less inclined to visit Chojiro again if there is a queue to enter. Still, Chojiro would work well for the folks in the Central Business District; a great option for sushi, though certainly a place that has some room for improvement in the long run.
Chojiro (located within Gochi Church Street Japan Kitchen)
23 Church Street