Sushi is Also Serious Business

14 03 2009

I know this is probalby old news if you are from Asia and parts of America, but I haven’t yet seen a Kaiten sushi 回転すし place in Canada.  I’m sorry if this is already something you know about, but I felt like introducing it anyway :P.

For those of you who have not experienced this, I will now proceed to introduce this wonderfully fascinating concept of automated sushi shops.

Enter Sushi Rou, one of the most popular kaiten sushi places in Japan

Enter Sushi Rou, one of the most popular kaiten sushi places in Japan

So what exactly is 回転すし?  Well, kaiten sushi literally means revolving sushi.  I’m sorry that I don’t have a picture of the inside of the shop, so you’ll just have to imagine it.  Imagine a shop with a conveyor belt going all around the shop, with counter seats and booth seats placed beside it.  Now imagine that the sushi is placed along the conveyor belt and goes all around the shop :D.  You are free to grab whatever sushi on the conveyor belt you want and just simply eat it.  There you have it, automated sushi shop!  There are a grand total of 4 people working in a shop that serves nearly 100 people.  2 sushi chefs and 2 people to work the cashier.  Here’s a video to make it all a little easier to understand, someone just placed a video camera on the conveyor belt and had it go all around the shop.

Because of the few staff involved, the prices are generally a lot cheaper than at traditional sushi places.  You are charged for every plate consumed, and each plate generally has between 2-4 pieces of sushi.  In the case of Sushi Rou, as it says on the sign (if you can read it) 105 yen per plate.  The sushi is really good too!

My good friend has also offered up this amazing drawing of his impression of sushi on a conveyor belt.  A great attempt, since he has never been to one.sushi-conveyor-belt

Unfortunately, these places are extremely un-foreigner friendly.  Everything is in Japanese, and I had to spend a few minutes working it all out on my own even though I could communicate.  So… an over view of etiquette at the kaiten sushi shop is in order!

Firstly, every single sushi name is in Japanese.  A bit of memorization work or learning to recognize your desired fish/maki or whatever is in order.  These shops specialize in the sashimi + sushi type, with little in the way of rolls.  O and also no North American invented garbage like the Salmon Pizza.  Fortunately, furigana is almost always present :P.

20081020_40367620081020_40367720081020_403678Secondly, everything is self service.  Cups are on top of the shelf, you make your own tea by mixing the ground tea leaves + hot water.  Need napkins go over to the counter and get them yourself.  The same applies for cold water.  I didn’t realize this, and asked and got a really weird stare ( I am so used to that at this point, I can’t count the number of times I’ve been given that look).

Next, feel free to grab anything you want off the conveyor belt.  All the plates cost the same unless marked otherwise.  Seasonal specials or more highly priced sushi such as fatty tuna (とろtoro) usually cost more than the standard 105 yen.  Do NOT grab something and put it back, terrible etiquette (good thing I can read the signs, heh).  Also, DO NOT put your finished plate back on the conveyor belt.  The plates are for calculating your bill, and if you are caught doing so you will be penalized as it is akin to stealing sushi.  Yellow plates have wasabi in the sushi between the fish and the rice, while white plates are wasabi free.

Fourthly, learn how to pronounce colors in Japanese.

黒色、白色、黄色、桃色、青色、緑色、etc.  Cookies for the person who can read those :P.  Today, I got stuck on an orange table… but I can read every other color except for orange….. :'(.  Eventually I got through with just オレンジ (orenji) though.  Why do you need colors?  Well, consider the situation where someone is cramping your style and eating all your favorite sushi, what do you do?  Why you place a direct order.  Hit the interphone button インタホン (intahon) and wait for the system to log your call and the sushi chef to answer.  The convo roughly goes like this:

Chef: お客様ご注文は? (okyakusama gochuumon ha?)  – Mr. Guest, what is your order?

Me: いくら、うに、とはまち。以上です。 (ikura, uni, to hamachi.  ijou desu) – Roe, sea urchin, and yellow tail.  That’s it.

It is important to say ijou to signal the end of your order, or else you’ll just end up in a state of awkward silence where the chef thinks you’re still thinking about it, and you just want her to get on with it :P.

Chef: 席色は? (seki iro ha?) – what is the color of your seat?

There is a big sign in front of you that says この席は桃色席です。 (kono seki ha momoiro seki desu) – This seat is a pink colored seat.  Well insert the correct seat color of course.

Me: 桃色です。(momoiro desu). – It’s pink.

Chef: かしこまりました。- (kashikomarimashita) Just the kenjo go version of wakarimashita.  Go here if you want more keigo.

That’s it :).  Now wait for specially marked plates to show up on the conveyor belt.  桃色専用です。 (momoiro senyou desu).  – Restricted to Pink seats).  That would be me, so I’ll just feel free to grab and eat it いただきます!

When you’re done eating, press the お会計ボタン。 The okaikei button.  Yes.. hybrid Japanese English, but that is for another time.  One of the cashiers will come over and count your plates.  Afterwards, just take the sign they give you to the cashier and pay.  That’s it!  Sounds rather simple doesn’t it?  It really is, just don’t get intimidated by all the Japanese.  Ok, well I can read it, but most of it doesn’t mean a whole lot so feel free to ignore it.
I’m going to side track a little bit, because I found this mysterious temple behind the sushi shop.  I have no idea who this temple is to or what it is for, but I heard from my hotel manager that there will be a festival here in a few weeks.  Stay tuned!


Entrance to the Mysterious Shrine

Entrance to a Side Temple

Entrance to a Side Temple

Main Temple

Main Temple

Another Side Temple

Another Side Temple

Sorry, I can’t provide any context to these pictures, I have no clue what this place is.  It’s just a really nice temple, that’s well kept behind a sushi house.  I spotted some locals praying at the temple, but that’s about it.  Well at least it’s nicely maintained. They have a wall of donors along with the amount donated, which I didn’t take a picture of, but I presume that’s what propelled some people to donate to its upkeep.

Anyway… until next time!  I still have to plan where to go for tomorrow.  It’s only Sunday!

I love this photo for an inexplicable reason

I love this photo for an inexplicable reason



7 responses

14 03 2009

Nice water photo .^_^. Every week you’re everywhere…hopefully you’ll have enough to be able to allow your blog to survive until your work term ends.

15 03 2009

I agree with robostrike on that water photo. You can see a lot of details in it.

Kaiten Sushi…yet another place I must visit at least once in my lifetime.

16 03 2009
Yuki Phnx

ahh, natsukashi. i remember these sushi stores in hong kong. i would always beg my parents to go there.

17 03 2009

Nice picture…a rectangle with 3 circles and 3 dots…
I think I’ll go to these sushi places when you are there…my level of Japanese is horrible…
I still want to eat at a place like that…
Why must places like that be so unfriendly to foreigner…sometimes I think of what can we do to make them think we are bad people…
I need to plan on going to a lot of temples and shrines (maybe the Lucky Star shrine if I feel like it…)…

21 03 2009

mmm i wish there were random temples like that in my area ^^;

haven’t really been to a very good sushi boat place in the states… usually all the sushi gets/looks kinda stale from floating around the bar so many times (lotsa people, even at the bar order directly from the chef)… hadn’t even thought to try it in japan… figures i come back and everyone’s posting sushi boat camera videos ^^;

22 03 2009
Joses Wong

Aaron! Oh man that sushi looks so good. You should bring me back some, especially some salmon sashimi =P.

Sounds like your having a blast in Japan! I hope you really get to experience everything that you want to experience when you there. Make the most of it and let your work term be a positive life changing experience =P. Oh and try not to watch too much anime when your there, and make sure to go out everyday and keep on taking a million photos!

Take care Aaron! And hope you find what your looking for!

27 06 2009

wow, ur post is really infomative for me ^_^ and ur pics… outstanding (^_<)d i never taste other sushi than a roll of rice in seaweed with veggies inside. wonder how it tastes, salmon sushi?

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