Conveyor belt sushi – or kaitenzushi – has got to be one of the most convenient, efficient and fun ways to dine. You grab whatever you want when it rolls by on the looping belt, without having to go through the hassle of getting your order taken and waiting for your food to be prepared.
Here at Kura Sushi in Japan, this affordable restaurant chain offers more than just a ¥100 conveyor belt sushi experience – you also get a chance to try your luck on a gachapon – the quintessential Japanese toy capsule vending machine.
Upon entering the restaurant, you will enter the number of diners at your table as well as your seating preference (booth or bar) on a touchscreen ticketing machine. A queue ticket will be issued immediately, and you’ll then make your way to your designated table when your number is called.
There will be two conveyor belt lanes at your table. The bottom lane is what we’re used to; a steady stream of ready-made sushi at your disposal for just ¥100 (SGD 1.30) per plate! With its wide variety of sushi at such an inexpensive price, here’s where you can try every kind of sushi out there without breaking the bank.
The upper ‘high speed’ lane is reserved for the items you order off the menu. Place your order on the iPad at your table, and your food will come speeding down the top lane before making an ingenious stop at your table. While waiting, brew yourself a cup of green tea – tea sachets and hot water are also available at your table. The automated menu is easy to navigate, equipped with accompanying pictures should your knowledge of Japanese be limited to just the various types of sashimi.
The efficiency doesn’t stop here. After you’re done with your sushi, you can conveniently drop all your used plates into a slot at the side of your table. This will send your plates to an automated dishwasher, count the number of plates you’ve ordered and tabulate your total Kura Sushi also has their very own in-house gachapon – a vending machine that dispenses capsule toys. For every five plates that glide through the slot, you get a chance to play a game on the toy capsule machine! If luck is on your side, you might just get to take a toy home. If not, you can always down another five plates of sushi and cross your fingers all over again.
Impressive technology aside, the sushi at Kura Sushi is one of the freshest in town, prepared muten-style. Muten translates to “no additives” in Japanese, so this recipe will ensure that your sushi is free of MSG, artificial colouring, preservatives and any other forms of additives. All plates on the lower conveyor lane are also equipped with a chip for the system to track how long the plate has been on the belt and when it needs to be disposed of.
Kura Sushi has over 362 outlets across Japan and a few branches in Taiwan. This unique dining experience has since spread to the West too, opening its first outlet in the U.S. this year. When it comes to marrying food with technology, you can always trust the Japanese to be one step ahead of the world. Do note that queues can be long during lunch and dinner hour, so remember to make reservations or avoid the peak hour altogether.
Toshima-ku, Tokyo Minamiikebukuro 1-19-5 G building Minamiikebukuro 01 B1F
Hours: 11:00 to 23:00 (weekdays), 10:20 to 23:00 (weekends)