I have a long and complex relationship with sushi. I’ve even fought seagulls outside the State Library over an avocado roll – so I know a good maki when I see it.
But it came as a complete surprise to enjoy some of the best sushi of my life at a new car wash in Coburg.
Star Sushi Bar and Hand Car Wash offers “x-factor” car washes, carpet shampoos, hand polishes and nigiri a la carte, among other Japanese dishes. You don’t go there for the ambience, unless you have a desire to watch your car get waxed while you eat. You go there for the food or a steam-clean, or conveniently: both.
There are no cabinets of wilting sushi rolls in the stark interior of Star Sushi Bar. Instead, each roll is made to order and wrapped up with slices of tender, fresh fish. The menu features an ambitious selection of sashimi, nigiri sets, creatively named sushi rolls (Lion King or Volcano roll, anyone?) and Japanese mains by chef Emily Park. While the vinyl seats and sparse tables don’t invite prolonged dining, each dish is presented with smiles and a flourish.
Korean husband-and-wife team John and Emily Park moved from Brisbane to set up Star Sushi Bar and Car Wash in June last year, after almost seven years of experience running restaurants and car washes (as separate businesses) in Queensland. The Coburg venture combines John’s passion for cars and Emily’s enthusiasm for Japanese cuisine into one extremely efficient enterprise.
John, who speaks limited English, says the Coburg property’s large shopfront, parking and garage around the back made it easy to open a restaurant as well as the already-busy car wash. While the restaurant side of the business was “almost dead” when it opened in June last year, it has picked up since the store began to offer delivery a few months later. Now, word is getting around.
Emily trained under a Japanese chef in Brisbane eight years ago, and since then has become obsessed with experimenting with the cuisine and honing her skills.
“After that she was only interested in making Japanese food,” John says, translating for Emily. “All my old menus she made by herself. She enjoys developing [and] making more variations of sushi.”
Star Sushi rolls are reasonably priced, ranging from $7.50 to $12 for eight pieces. The menu features winners such as the Sakura Chicken Roll, garnished with wisps of red onion and swirls of okonomi sauce and Japanese mayonnaise. The Ruby Roll comes topped with sunset-like slices of fresh tuna and salmon. The menu also includes an extensive range of don buri, Japanese curries, yaki udon and udon noodle dishes.
The restaurant will be revamped and rebranded in the coming months. There’ll be a different name, but the same sushi. There’s never been a better time to wash your car.
Star Sushi Bar and Hand Car Wash
116 Bell Street, Coburg
(03) 9350 4224
Mon to Fri 11.30am–2.30pm, 5pm–8.30pm
Sat & Sun 5pm–8.30pm