Review: Hei Sushi @ Downtown East

Hei Sushi at Downtown East

After having a great time watching Clash of the Titans my wife and I walked down to the lower level of Downtown East to look around and decide on dinner.  We hadn’t eaten at Hei Sushi before and the conveyor belt full of sushi looked pretty appealing, so we got in line and waited to be seated.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from Hei Sushi but the entire experience was more than a little under-whelming.  There’s a restaurant by the pool and gym in Tampines (that I can’t remember the name of) that sells sushi off a conveyor belt and their selection is impressive.  The taste and quality is impressive as well.  I’d expected the same thing from Hei Sushi. We’d eaten a heavy lunch and we weren’t that hungry so the idea of just getting a few items from the conveyor belt is what roped us in.  The place also has an interesting method for ordering items: an interactive computer screen complete with an optical mouse on your table.  I was excited to play with it!

Computer Ordering Screen

The table we were seated at was near the front of one of the conveyor belts, so I was sure we’d get the best pick from the items coming out of the kitchen.  That would have been true, I’m sure, but no items were actually being added to the conveyor belt the entire 30 minutes we sat there.  Not that I could tell anyway.  Plates with the same, six or seven varieties, of sad looking pieces of sushi with wilted fish kept going round and round.

We initially took a few plates to try them, but after sitting for 30 minutes and realizing that they weren’t going to add anything new, we turned to the menu in disappointment.  After looking through the menu for a while we settled on an item we could both enjoy, the ika teriyaki (squid).  So, my wife took the mouse and tried to place the order.  She couldn’t get it to work, so I tried it.  The screen was frozen.  Left click, right click, it all resulted in no click.

Hei Sushi Sitting Area

At this point we were both disappointed with the place and decided to leave.  A meal is supposed to be a relaxing experience.  I shouldn’t have to face technical difficulties after already being disappointed by the small selection of choices on the conveyor belt, which, by the way, were barely a fraction of what their menu said was supposed to be available.  We were supposed to call for our bill by clicking a button on the computer screen, but that didn’t work so I had to flag down a waitress who seemed rather surprised that we were leaving after only eating 6 plates from the conveyor belt.

Speaking of those plates, they’re also overpriced.  That restaurant by the pool (wish I knew it’s name) had set the price at 1 dollar for two pieces of sushi on a plate.  Hei Sushi had the price set at 2.18 per plate, not including GST.

Now for my final complaint.  We were charged a 10% service fee.  10%!  And for what?  Being shown to a table?  Being presented with our bill?  We were never given any service to have to pay for it.  We picked up everything ourselves off of the conveyor belt.  I understand the concept behind a service fee, and I’m willing to pay it, but only when I’ve received service, and good service at that.  Hei Sushi’s service staff were pleasant, but they didn’t actually do anything for us to warrant a 10% service charge.

Hei Sushi isn’t a terrible place by any means, but we won’t be returning simply because there are better options where we can get better food at a better value.

4 comments

  1. Brad F. · April 6, 2010

    I won't say, 'Don't try Hei Sushi' because the menu items might be really good. We went there specifically for the conveyor belt sushi and wound up disappointed, but maybe that's not their specialty. There's definitely better to be had though.

    Once it caught on here, a tipping system would work very well and be better for everyone involved, both in terms of fairness and higher earnings. At least, that's how it goes in the US. There, it's not uncommon to tip 20 or 30% of the total bill. I remember my dad once tipping a waitress 40 bucks on a 170 dollar bill. Tell me that's not better than a 10% service charge. Of course, the girl did her job well too, with a smile, and was polite, etc., so she earned it. Waiters and waitresses in the US earn about 2.80 an hour, which is below the minimum wage. They're expected to make up for it in tips, which encourages good job performance. I've tipped 10 bucks on a 12 dollar order before. Anyhow, I heard something in the news a few weeks ago about some restaurants here trying to move to a tipping system, but unless it's a nationwide switch with an advertising campaign, I don't think they'll get it going effectively.

    Thanks for reading and commenting!

  2. Meshz · April 6, 2010

    Hmmz, haven't tried Hei Sushi..In fact I'm kinda wary of these kinda less popular sushi places..

    I agree with the service charge >.< I hate paying for it when I'm either NOT given service or given really bad service. I really do wish we had a tipping culture in Singapore sometimes.

  3. Brad F. · April 3, 2010

    It could very well be a one off thing, but like I said in the post, the restaurant there by that pool has sushi on a conveyor belt and it was 1 dollar a plate, and it was fresh and good. It's really not surprising that they can price it that way. If you go to a grocery store like Cold Storage you can get sushi for about that price or less (if you consider how many pieces are in the package you're buying), especially if you simply wait until near closing, when they do mark-downs.

    Yes. I'm well aware that the plates are color coded. That doesn't really impact what I said. The one single thing I saw on a red plate (premium item) was very unappealing looking as well. With it being 8 PM, when a lot of people want to eat dinner, it was just very disappointing that they didn't fill out the conveyor belt with more selections. The menu had dozens of more items listed that were supposed to be on the conveyor belt, but they didn't bother to put them out for consumption. I think they wanted people to eat what was already there, even though no one was taking it because it wasn't a desirable selection of items.

  4. YUN ZHEN! · April 3, 2010

    Sounds so much like Sakae Sushi and even the screen format looks the same, and guess what, it's either under the same company as Sakae Sushi or is affiliated to it. The times I've been to Sakae Sushi were good experiences with wonderful Tofu so perhaps it was a one-off experience? Usually the items on the conveyor belt remain the same because it's sort of like a mass production thing and if you want something from the menu, you order it. And some things just can't be put on the conveyor belt (like tofu). I mean, when they make sushi, they probably make a lot at one go right? I'm not sure how sushi restaurants work actually… yeah but things on the conveyor belt never change. Or you see them and never see them again.

    Also, sushi prices depend on plate colour. I don't know whether you knew that. You probably knew that. Perhaps you were eating the cheap sushi at that sushi restaurant? $1 per plate sounds too good to be true. I've seen sushi at $4 per plate for the expensive ones but on average it's $2 per plate.

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