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Sushi Circle

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Q 7,16 68161 Mannheim

Color coded plates, topped with eye pleasing, intriguing bite sized morsels of food, steadily move down the line as patrons watch with amazement.  Even passers-by take a few moments to peek in through the windows to take in the show.  Is this some sort of assembly production line?  No!  It’s the conveyor belt at Sushi Circle, where sushi train style of service is implemented.  With the widespread popularity of sushi in Germany, it was only a matter of time before conveyor belt sushi made its way here.

To my surprise, Sushi Circle was incredibly hard to find.  I was literally walking around in circles, going around the Q block in Mannheim, trying to find this particular sushi bar.  The problem is that the adjacent building is currently under construction.  Thus, the restaurant front is obstructed by scaffolding and made even more unattractive by the presence of a Porta-Potty.  The pedestrian sidewalk is also made narrower right in front of the place.

With all of these minor setbacks, Sushi Circle is like a hidden gem tucked away from plain sight.  The interior is modern, well designed, and well lit.  The conveyor belt and surrounding counter seats are rightfully positioned in the center of the restaurant.  At each polished wooden seat, there is a graphic placemat presenting all of the featured types of sushi, along with their respective prices.  Bottles of Kikkoman soy sauce – original and sweet – are positioned all along the line.  Plates with sliced pickled ginger and dollops of wasabi are free and can be picked up off of the conveyor.  Sitting in one of the wooden seats, you are easily within reach of any plate.  The conveyor belt itself moves at a slow pace in a counterclockwise direction, making it easy to grab them.  In order to simplify the entire process, each plate has a specific color signifying a particular price.  For instance, food items on plates with a blue rim are 0,95 €, red plates are 1,95 €, and yellow ones are 2,95 €.

The mere idea of a rotating conveyor belt with plates of well-presented sushi is truly a sight to see and definitely something to experience.   If you are not big on sushi, Sushi Circle still offers something for you.  Here, you can find soups (Miso soup or Udon noodles in soup), salads, yakitori, egg rolls, and samosas.  With the exception of the soups, which must be ordered separately, all of these items can be found on the conveyor.  If, for some reason, you are unable to find a particular type of sushi (perhaps another guest took the last plate), you can simply ask one of the sushi chefs behind the counter.  For dessert, there is a fruit salad plate, sesame balls, and also various muffins.  Muffins?  That’s right, Sushi Circle offers chocolate and vanilla muffins on the line.

 

If the thought of a moving line of Japanese food still doesn’t appeal to you, Sushi Circle also has a special lunch menu for the extremely attractive price of 7,50 €.  Included is your choice of soup, 3 plates of any color, and unlimited tea (either green or Jasmine tea).

The chicken Udon noodle soup is served extremely hot.  The chicken broth is clear, but only mildly flavored.  Adding a little hint of soy sauce will provide that extra jolt of flavor.  The udon noodles are firm and cooked well.  Obviously, they aren’t homemade, but acceptable.  Included in the soup are small chunks of chicken breast, chopped green onion, and pieces of crisp red, yellow, and green bell peppers.  Overall, this udon noodle soup is decent, but you can find a more traditional bowl elsewhere.  It just tastes a bit westernized.

 

Some of the sushi plates include various types of Maki, nigiri, inari, and inside out rolls.  Unfortunately, the Sushi Circle here does not have any California rolls.  The Inari sushi had to be ordered from the sushi chef, but he was happy to make it.  Watching the sushi chef make it, you can see that the fried tofu skin pouch has been marinating in a dark soy sauce mixture for a while.  Although the inari isn’t as sweet as I had preferred, it is still delicious nonetheless.  Being freshly made makes it even better.

 

One of the inside-out sushi rolls has cress herbs all around the outside, with crab meat and avocado stuffed in the center.  The combination is interesting and the flavor follows suit.

You can also find yakitori – grilled chicken skewers, glazed with a thick teriyaki sauce and garnished with sesame seeds.  Although 4 pieces may seem small, the flavor is concentrated.  The sauce is more savory than sweet and the sesame seeds add a wonderful dimension to the chicken.  One drawback is that the chicken is rather cold – it would be amazing served hot off the grill.

 

For dessert, you might want to try the sesame balls.  These little globes are made from rice flour and stuffed with a plum paste.  The inner core is only slightly sweet; the strawberry jelly and custard cream decorating the plate supplies even more sweetness to this treat.  Unlike some places, where they skimp on the filling, these pastries are fairly well crammed with delectable plum paste.

 

The service at Mannheim’s Sushi Circle is remarkable.  The German server is extremely attentive and always has a smile on her face.  She even visits a few times during the course of the meal to ask if everything is going well.  The Japanese sushi chef is also friendly and free to chat.  Today’s visit probably ranks as one of the best overall experiences in Germany in terms of service.

One potential problem associated with having prepared foods, including raw fish, sitting on a conveyor belt is the health hazards.  Sushi Circle addresses this by using a coded system, ensuring that food items containing raw fish are not kept longer than 2 hours on the line.  This guarantee is somewhat assuring, however for the other items, such as the chicken yakitori and even the sushi, it can still be a concern.  When the restaurant is not brimming with guests and there isn’t a fast turnover on the plates, the items can start losing their quality – the sushi can eventually become dry and the chicken even colder.

Nonetheless, Sushi Circle is well worth the visit.  Not only is the food exquisite and the service flawless, but the price of the lunch menu is unbeatable.  With the large variety of plates to sample, another visit is definitely foreseeable in the near future!

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Summary:

With 18 restaurants located all around Germany, Sushi Circle is a growing chain of sushi bar restaurants featuring rotating conveyor belt sushi.  In addition to a large assortment of sushi, Sushi Circle also serves other Japanese food, including soups, sashimi, yakkitori, salads, desserts, and tea.  Exceptional service, attentive staff.

Hours: Monday – Saturday: 11:00 AM to 11:00 PM,
           Sundays & Holidays:  4:00 PM – 11:00 PM

 

Overall – 4.5 stars

  • Chicken Udon Soup – 3.5/5
  • Inari Sushi – 4/5
  • Yakitori (Chicken) – 4/5
  • Inside Out Sushi (Crab Meat) – 4/5
  • Sesame Balls – 4/5
  • Service – 5/5

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www.sushi-circle.de/

Written by geschmack

April 12th, 2010 at 11:50 pm

Posted in Mannheim

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Konomi Japanisches Restaurant

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Untere Neckarstraße 54 69117 Heidelberg

For many people, especially westerners, Japanese cuisine is synonymous with sushi.  Most of the Japanese restaurants found in Germany and all over Europe primarily feature these delicate rolls of cooked vinegar rice, wrapped around various types of fish, vegetables, or other ingredients.  However, Japanese cuisine goes well beyond sushi.  Teriyaki cooked meats on rice, as well as noodles, such as soba and udon, are other types of dishes featured in Japanese cooking.  Soups are also a traditional part of the Japanese meal.  Konomi Japanese Restaurant, the first such restaurant in Heidelberg, serves up real, traditional Japanese food in a pleasant, authentic Japanese environment.

Konomi is located in the same building as the Schönberger Hof Hotel.  Signs outside the building will direct you into the dining area.  Walk through the cloth curtains and you will find a nice, relaxing setting.  The dining area here at Konomi is relatively small.  The décor features genuine Japanese ceramics and figures, wall screens made out of bamboo, beautifully decorated Japanese folding fans on the walls, and an assortment of different light fixtures.  Tables are wooden and polished.  Seating consists of standard, wooden chairs painted black.  Each table features a petite, black soy sauce dispenser, as well as a tiny, cute jar filled with chili powder (which isn’t too spicy).  During lunch time, a small card displays the daily lunch special (9,80 Euros).  The menu is written in Japanese, German, and English.

 

The lunch menu is restricted to nine dishes, but the entrées are relatively inexpensive and the portion sizes are quite large.  Moreover, each guest is given a small cup filled with green tea, which is continuously refilled by the attentive staff.  Order the 10,80 euro Udon, Kappamaki, and Inari set and you will be served a large tray featuring a mammoth bowl filled with a rich broth and udon noodles, in addition to a platter of six cucumber sushi pieces and one inari sushi.  Adding to the authenticity of the meal, there is a pair of chopsticks lying on a chopstick rest, as well as a large spoon for the soup.

The sushi platter is served with slices of ginger and a small dipping corner brimming with soy sauce, wasabi already mixed in.  The cucumber maki sushi is pretty ordinary, nothing spectacular, although it is a nice palate cleanser.  The green is fresh and crunchy, but aside from that, it is merely average.  On the other hand, the inari sushi is extremely delicious.  The fried tofu pouch filled with sushi rice is simply marvelous.  A slight hint of sweetness makes the inari wonderful.  It is soft, delicate, and simple, yet so delicious.  Dip it into the soy sauce for an extra touch of flavor.

Udon – thick noodles made from wheat-flour – are absolutely delectable.  They are fairly soft and smooth and have a clean, pure taste.  The noodles soak up the warm, rich broth well.  Speaking of which, the warm soup accompanying the noodles definitely soothes the soul on a cold, rainy day.  Tenkasu, which are crunchy, deep-fried bits of dough that are typically used in making tempura, is also served with the noodles in a side bowl.  Eat them crunchy as is to provide a nice textural contrast between crunchy and soft or pour them into the soup to soak and enjoy the spongy, tasty pieces together with the noodles and broth.  Either way, the Tenkasu offers a pleasant flavor enhancement to the bowl of noodles.

Konomi is undoubtedly the best overall Japanese restaurant in Heidelberg.  With its extensive, authentic menu, delicious and tasty cuisine, and friendly, efficient staff, Konomi is THE place to enjoy an authentic Japanese meal without having to fly thousands of miles to Japan.  Although the dinner menu is large, it is also fairly expensive.  The lunch menu is easier on the pocket, yet filling.  Definitely worth paying a visit if you are in the mood for some Japanese cuisine.

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Summary:

Situated right across the Heidelberg Congress House, which overlooks the Neckar River, Konomi is a traditional Japanese Restaurant serving up authentic, original Japanese cuisine.  Located on the first floor of the Schönberger Hof Hotel.  Lunch Menu with altering daily dish.  Exquisite presentation, truly traditional dishes.

Hours: Tuesday – Saturday 12 PM – 2:30 PM, 6 PM – 11 PM 
            Sunday, Holidays 6 PM – 11 PM 
            Closed Mondays

 

Overall – 5 stars

  • Udon Noodles with Tenkasu (deep fried flour dough) – 5/5
  • Inari Sushi – 5/5
  • Kappamaki Sushi (Cucumber) – 3.5/5
  • Service – 5/5

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http://www.konomi.de/

Written by geschmack

February 23rd, 2010 at 4:52 pm