I’ve been eating Sushi for a few years now and my love for it has only grown in this time. One reason could possibly be that I’ve always been fascinated by Japanese culture – films, anime, books, the country with its amalgamation of tradition and the future, people – and the other being that sushi is delicate, pretty, small bits and bobs of yummy food that can be eaten without even realizing how much has been consumed, until the bill arrives that is.
The quintessential authentic sushi still evades me. For that I can only dream about saving enough money and heading over to Japan. That though hasn’t stopped me from enjoying it in its more economical avatar that has become the trend over the last year or so in the country. Being expensive, it automatically has been picked up by the status conscious; who make it a point to mention in their conversation that sushi is now part of their regular diet. This jaded demand has led to an increase in supply of all kinds of sushi. In addition to that, a healthy inflow of expatriates, especially from the East, has resulted in specialized restaurants that are serving food as close to being authentic as possible.
The economical sushi has been one of the biggest reasons for the rise of this trend. It has made sushi a household name and not just limited to high-end restaurants in five-star hotels. Sushi Haus amongst other similar delivery-only outlets made it possible to have well made sushi at home. Kiosks in malls and festivals are quite common now. Many restaurants serve excellent sushi at relatively cheap prices – Kyoto in Gurgaon is one – and places like En – still not as popular as it should be – is a great place to have some good moderately priced sushi. I tasted some of their offerings at a festival and it was the best I’ve had locally.
When the folks behind Eggjactly started a truck serving sushi, I was all for it. Sushi on wheels isn’t a bad idea at all and making it into a bona fide street food can be interesting in the long run. If you came across Sushi House Mafia on a dark winter night, it will evoke a sense of eeriness with an all black exterior, but “looks can be deceiving” – and clichés are a dime a dozen – for inside this whole Mafioso facade is a kitchen that serves freshly made – this is important, so don’t be in a hurry and let them take their time with your food – bits and bobs of delicious looking sushi.
For now the menu at Sushi House Mafia is pretty straightforward and simple; 5 Vegetarian options priced at Rs. 250,- for eight pieces and 8 Non-Vegetarian costing Rs. 350,- for the same number of sushi. The price is borderline acceptable as taking it any higher would prove to be challenging both for the seller and also for the customer who approaches a food-truck for “cheap” food. The size of the sushi also just manages to stay on the right side of being adequate and with sushi – which is in general an expansive dish everywhere – it’s important not to over-price or under-size unless and until you have someone in the kitchen confident enough to make sushi that can challenge the best restaurants around the world. Moreover, the economical sushi is available only a phone call away, so it only makes good business sense to keep the costing customer friendly.
I must confess that I do have a soft spot towards the folks who run Eggjactly and now Sushi House Mafia. They were amongst the first to start food-trucks in Gurgaon and over the last year, as the entire scene has just exploded, they are one of the few who have remained true to the idea behind running a food truck; always on hand at the truck be it in the kitchen or taking orders, walking that thin line between developing friendships with customers and still staying professional, accommodating, they have managed to keep the gap nicely bridged between customer and “owner” of the truck. Since Eggjactly is one of three trucks I frequent regularly, I’ve gotten to know them a little and their passion for food and to experiment with it along with their entrepreneurial lust – which can clearly be seen with the start of this truck – is heartwarming and encouraging to say the least.
Sushi House Mafia didn’t disappoint, let’s get that out in the open first. Food-trucking – is that a thing yet? Has someone already coined that term? – with friends meant I was able to sample almost all that was offered. In order to try the maximum possible, the folks at SHM allowed us to mix and match the sushi is batches of 4 instead of 8. While some stood out as favourites – the Crispy Asparagus, Rainbow Rolls, Dynamo with salmon and crunchy sesame, and the Kick with Wasabi Marinated Prawns – others were equally delicious and having tried 8 of the 13, I wouldn’t say any one was avoidable. You simply have to experience them one after another, even if it means multiple visits, and decide on your own favourites. The sushi was well formed and while some might have lacked a bit of finesse, it is to be expected at this cost. However, it was the various ingredients – avocado, asparagus, salmon, prawns, and a zingy crème cheese – that finally won me over.
Those that follow the blog would probably be aghast that I had non-vegetarian sushi after all the fuss I have created about “going vegetarian” over the last few months. To you, all I can say is; it is in an experimental stage, I only had a total of four non-vegetarian sushi, and they had very tiny bits of fish and chicken in them. So you may please stop looking at me like that and get back to reading the rest of the review.
Sushi House Mafia is a welcomed addition to the food-trucks of the city, but I do carry the same concern about its parking spot as I do for Eggjactly – both of them are parked side-by-side on road near Leisure Valley and Sector 29 in Gurgaon. These trucks – and some more – park facing the road, which is quite busy and often cars whizz past at high speeds. Although, everyone at the trucks is helpful and serve in the cars, it still makes for a dangerous situation especially – as is the case with me – families visit with children. I don’t expect them to change their location – it is after all a high traffic area – but I would strongly suggest parking the trucks so the serving stations are facing the pavement. This also can allow them to put some tables and chairs on the payment for the ease of the customers, but most importantly makes everything a lot safer.
I think I’m confident enough about Sushi House Mafia to place it in my “Recommended” list after just one visit. Eggjactly has been steady enough ever since it started, and I’d expect the same level of professionalism and consistency to carry on with their new truck. SHM also stands out for serving something completely different from the other trucks and everyone loves a little bit of ingenuity when it comes to business; especially when the business is food.