Conveyor Belt Sushi - kaiten zushi
Sushi is fantastic. I eat Sushi here in Japan at least once if not twice a week. The only problem with sushi is that it can be incredibly expensive. Fresh fish is a highly sought after commodity all over the world.
That's why I love conveyor belt sushi restaurants. The sushi is not only cheap but served up in only a way the Japanese could think up; via conveyor belt. That's right, you sit down relax, make yourself a cup of tea and watch as your dinner glides past you. All you have to do is reach and grab what looks tasty.
Each plate that goes by has a fixed price, usually it's set at 100 yen or about $1 dollar per plate. On each plate is usually placed 2 pieces of sushi. Once you grab your plate, you can add soy sauce and wasabi and enjoy.
One problem is that sometimes what you want isn't being put out on the conveyor belt by the sushi chefs in the kitchen. If this is the case all you have to do is use the special touchscreen ordering device that is right above your table. As soon as you push the button, your sushi is made and then sent out on the conveyor belt. How do you know which one is yours?
Well Japan is very technological, so the solution is simple actually. Each plate has a chip implanted in it that tells it where it is on the conveyor belt. Once it reaches your seat the same device you used to order the sushi begins beeping until you've plucked your desired sushi of the conveyor belt.
This same chip also keeps track of how long the sushi has gone around and around on the conveyor belt. If it's gone around to many times, the conveyor belt has a mechanism that automatically discards the sushi. After all, nobody wants to eat old sushi right?
Not a big fan of raw fish but all your friends want to drag you along with them? No worries. There are lot's of sushi with cooked ingredients. And if you are especially picky and not interested in anything rice or fish based at all, there are a whole host of other things on the menu such as various noodles, soups, and even beef and egg sushi as well. For dessert you can also take cake, ice cream and fruits from the conveyor belt as well. But really, if you are going to come all the way to Japan and not try the local food, shame on you.
After you finish eating a plate you stack them up to keep count. Once you are all done with your meal simply yell for the wait staff or push a button on the touch screen. Now you can either have the woman count the plates manually, or if you want more space while your dining you can individually slip the plates down into the special disposal system located under the conveyor belt. The plates are automatically counted and whisked away unseen to be washed in the kitchen.
So if you ever get a chance to visit one of these in Japan please take it! It's a great place to try sushi for the first time. You'll be able to see what you are getting before you take a bite. Plus you won't have to worry about the language barrier.
The best part is that as Sushi catches on more and more outside of Japan, so to are conveyor sushi restaurants. You might find that one has sprung up in your neighborhood. Maybe you wont have to travel abroad just to enjoy this unique dining experience.