I remembered my first ever sushi meal. It was an M&S take-away in Newcastle prolly like 15 years ago which included smoked salmon makimono, prawn and crabmeat. My first ever sushi that had raw fish as neta was at Samsi in Manchester. I’m so ashamed to admit that I almost gagged when I had the mackerel nigiri. Fast forward to the present day, I have done pretty well. I’d like to think so, as long as it’s not shirako[1].

My sushi adventure in my recent Japan trip wasn’t that much, as there is more to Japanese food than just sashimi or nigirizushi. I went to three establishments – two of which were of the kaitenzushi (conveyor belt) variety, and the other at the impeccable Sushi Dai at Tsukiji Shijo (to be covered in my next post). Nevertheless, I will say it now – stop eating supermarket sushi if you live in the UK. If you want to buy it at the food court at AEON in KL, that’s oooo-kaayyy lah. Nothing beats freshly made sushi.

Kaitenzushi offers the cheapest value-for-money sushi you can get (sometimes less than GBP1 a plate), and probably not one for the snooty sushi connoisseur. But this is Japan, and since I will be eating sushi made by local chefs – I can’t go wrong, really.

My first kaitenzushi was Genki Sushi at its Shibuya branch. If you are used to the conveyor belts at Yo! Sushi or Sushi King, well, you are in for a ride at Genki. We didn’t have to queue when we got there, but if you do see one (like the time when I returned on my last night in Tōkyō), just get in line as you’d get a seat in 10-15 minutes max. You are handed a seat number and once seated, you order your sushi on the touch screen in front you. At Genki, you order three items at a time. Depending on the selection, you may select whether or not you want wasabi in the sushi. After selecting your three choices , you press order and just wait.

In front of you would be compartments containing chopsticks, wet towels, cups, wasabi, shōyu and powdered green tea. After making your ocha, your food should arrive. Three belts run on top of each other and the sushi just whizzes past. A friend asked on Facebook if it was difficult catching the plate. You don’t catch it but your order stops in front of you. You collect your sushi and press a blinking yellow button for the tray to whizz back into the kitchen. Whilst eating you may well just order your next three!

The menu ran the whole gamut of what you should get at a sushi eaterie. There is a premium selection (the slightly pricier Platinum series) which includes chūtoro and fatty salmon. Kaitenzushis tend to be a bit more adventurous with the variety they serve – some of the seared nigirizushi include cheese and onion! Genki also does a not too bad chawanmushi. Genki also does non-sushi selections like tempuras or noodles. They even do fries. For dessert, I chose the ubiquitous ‘pudding’ – creme caramel, to be exact. With 10-15 plates, your bill should come to 1500円 thereabouts which is dead cheap. The address of the Shibuya branch is as follows:

24-8, 1F Leisure Plaza Bldg
Tōkyō 150-0042
Opens 11AM – midnight (last orders at 11:30PM)

My other kaitenzushi experience was in Kyōto where I had dinner at Musashi, as recommended by a friend who had 29 plates there[2]. The branch I went to was on Kawaramachi-dōri before my Ponto-chō/Gion photowalk. There was a queue (you just sit on the bench and the floor staff moves you along ) and it was like 15 minutes which wasn’t too bad. Once seated, it’s the usual of getting prepped and making your cup of powdered ocha. One point here, the ocha in Japan is lovely. I dunno, I prolly had been drinking bad ones in the UK I guess.

Musashi was like Yo! Sushi – a straight forward conveyor with various selections you look at and pick. The difference with Musashi, any particular type of sushi is always there on the belt. The chefs are constantly making the sushi, and a chef would hold up the belt adding 4-5 plates at a time, meaning there is no wait. You may however ask the chef if there was something really not on the belt as well as requests for extra wasabi. The variety was pretty good as always, and how much you have depends on how much you can take in. Musashi also does horsemeat sashimi (sakuraniku)! I didn’t try it for obvious reasons. Heh. As I was kinda famished, and I was a lil’ shy in taking too many photos, here’s some of what I had, courtesy of the eaterie’s website:

I also had flounder (hirame) and amberjack (kanpachi). I just had twelve plates and I just couldn’t eat any more. I think I also felt chotto embarrassed as the locals next to me weren’t pigging out. Heh. So much for beating the record of 29. Gochisosamadeshita!

440 Ebisucho
Kyōto 604-8005
Opens 11AM – 9:30PM

[1]Cod sperm sac. Yum.
[2]No names I’m afraid. Heh.