The 8th wonder of the world, the Japanese sushi restaurant

     I’m normally the farthest thing from a food snob, but sushi I very rarely will try outside of Japan. It just doesn’t seem right. (Same goes for Mexican food outside of North America.)
     Greg took me to a fancy sushi place yesterday and then a 100 yen per plate sushi place today (83 yen=$1). Although the former has a superior taste, it’s fun to see the crazy system of the latter, and even in the cheap places you can get melt-in-your-mouth sushi that can make you forget all that is wrong in this world.
     “Kaiten zushi” is where the sushi rotates around the restaurant on a conveyor belt. This system alone is uniquely Japanese because can you imagine the abuse it would undergo in any other country? People would mess with the food, mess with the conveyor belt, hide plates after they ate so it wouldn’t be counted in the total, etc.
     Just stepping in the door of a basic kaiten zushi restaurant and seeing this scene is dumbfounding initially. It has a lot of faint canned sounds that you wish it didn’t, but it’s a feast for the senses nonetheless.

     Greg taught me to never take the food off the conveyor belt, but to order it instead for maximum freshness. This ordering system is devoid of any human interaction. You use the touch screen and decide which you want, with or without wasabi. Your order comes on a raised stand like you see in the photo below. How do you know it is yours? Because your screen will loudly announce it. The system is timed so that you will get the announcement when your sushi is about a meter away. How is that for efficiency?

     100 yen for a plate of two pieces of sushi is VERY cheap, in case you weren’t sure. Japan is not expensive! Well, starting tomorrow it will be as I am heading back to Tokyo (hitchhiking in the rain—fun!) so ask me again later.

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The 8th wonder of the world, the Japanese sushi restaurant — 4 Comments

  1. I half expected the 8th Wonder of the World, you would claim to be your blog…. I’m disappointed!

    That conveyer belt~ holy smokes!!! I’ve seen a much smaller scale and non-electronic version here in Sunny Diego in this great hole-in the wall sushi place, but nothing to that magnitude!
    And cheappppppp!!

    Where are you off to after Tokyo?

  2. We have a kaiten zushi place here in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Rather than being able to order from a touch-screen, the restaurant is still slightly reminiscent of small-town Japan and has the sushi preparation area open to the restaurant and along the conveyor belt. If you want something that is not on the conveyor (and unless you want inari, you will want something that is not on the conveyor), you politely request it of one of the team of sushi chefs. You can watch them prepare it, and then the will stick your special order plate on top of a “plate bracelet” (my term) and it will arrive at your seat by conveyor belt. There is sort of an honor system with not taking other people’s orders.

    I like the more personal touch, especially since the chef team still delivers the standard greeting and farewell, in unison.

  3. The first sushi I ever ate was at one of these joints in Tokyo. The year was 1985, so no touch-screens. I don’t remember an option to order fresh. Didn’t matter though. It was all good, and at the time, cheap.

    I had mexican food in Australia. Now that was an experience. Although it was probably better than the mexican food I once had in Seattle.

  4. So Foster, is Japan cheap? This is one of your claims that I don’t think we’ll ever see eye-to-eye on! If you still believe it, Prove It!! 😛

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