Kaiten sushi (conveyor belt sushi) restaurant in Japan

The Sushi Train: Kaiten Sushi | Japanese Food Guide

The Sushi Train: Kaiten Sushi | Japanese Food Guide

Sushi has become one of the most popular Japanese foods around the world. In the West, we are mainly familiar with American-style inside-out rolls and simple nigiri served by the kitchen. But in Japan, there is a special way to eat many different types of sushi, amongst which is kaiten sushi. What is kaiten sushi? Let this Japanese Food Guide take you through a special part of Japanese food culture.

The Sushi Train: Kaiten Sushi | Japanese Food Guide
The Sushi Train: Kaiten Sushi | Japanese Food Guide
The Sushi Train: Kaiten Sushi | Japanese Food Guide

History of Sushi

Sushi is a Japanese food that came to be appreciated worldwide ever since the California Roll was invented in the United States by a Japanese chef in the 1960’s in order to get Americans acquainted with eating sushi.

Traditional style sushi as we know it today, or Edomae sushi, originated in Edo (now Tokyo) and it was originally a fast food for the people working around the harbor. This style of sushi is called ‘nigiri’, and it is a simple form of sushi with a small piece of fish over rice.

Kaiten Sushi

Everyone knows how expensive excellent sushi in famous restaurants can get. And even though it is an experience that you should try if you come to Japan if you have the budget for it, we would now like to introduce you to kaitenzushi,  the type of sushi that goes around on a conveyor belt.

It is a lot more accessible in terms of price, and still very delicious. It is very easy to order as you can just grab whatever looks good to you from the belt, so that makes it perfect for a first experience with sushi in Japan. The plates that the sushi sits on have different colors and these stand for the different prices if the restaurant works with different prices.

At the cheaper chain restaurants, the cheapest plates go for 100 yen, and these usually contain 2 pieces of sushi. Do you want some examples of what you can get for 100 yen? The cheaper versions of salmon, tamago, or tobiko (flying fish roe) is typically served in kaiten sushi restaurants. In general, you either take from the belt what you want to eat, or you can also order directly from the chef if you don’t see the type of sushi you want to get or if you want it made freshly.

How It Works

There is usually a menu that shows all types of sushi they have.  And they often also serve other types of food such as fried chicken, fried potatoes, miso soup, salads, tofu, udon, and desserts. This makes a kaiten sushi restaurant perfect for parties where not everyone wants to eat the same type of food. Some restaurants are very modern, as you can sometimes use a touchscreen to order. Then, the food will be brought to you by a little train or conveyor belt. An example of this type of restaurant is Uobei in Tokyo. They often have multiple languages on the screens as well.

When entering the restaurant, you must indicate if you want to sit at the counter or at a table. In some establishments, a plate with the table number is delivered to the customer. With each seat comes a few handy items. There’s always a bottle of soy sauce, a bowl of pickled ginger, and a stack of small plates for soy sauce. You can also find a box of chopsticks, a small bowl of green tea powder (or tea bags),  and cups for tea and a hot water dispenser. Tea is usually self-service. To do this, put some powdered green tea in the cup and add hot water from the dispenser.

As you consume your sushi, stack the empty plates on your table. At the end of the meal, you can notify the staff with the screen that the bill is desired. Then, the server will calculate the invoice based on the number of empty plates. It can also be calculated automatically. In that case, you must take the table number plate that was delivered at the beginning and deliver it to the cash register to pay.

Famous Kaiten Sushi Restaurantss

Are you in a city in Japan and do you want to eat in a kaiten sushi restaurant? The following restaurants are recommended (all have a basic price of approximately 100 yen per dish):

Genki Sushi 元 気 寿司
Kappa Sushi か っ ぱ 寿司
Hamazushi は ま 寿司
Kura Sushi く ら 寿司

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