How to eat kaiten-sushi | try everything from sushi to noodles and dessert!
Whether you call it sushi train, conveyor belt sushi, or rotating sushi, kaiten-zushi is a true crowd pleaser! Nowadays, the kaiten-zushi experience is more than just sushi, with most restaurants also offering impressive side menus, desserts, and more. This style of dining is fun for everyone, children and adults alike. This time, we visited Kurasushi Asakusa ROX, a kaiten-zushi restaurant which is specially designed for the enjoyment of visiting tourists, to learn the smart way to enjoy this fun twist on Japan’s best-known food.
Table of Contents
- 1 Let’s learn a bit about kaiten-zushi
- 2 First, enter the restaurant
- 3 After taking your seat, wipe your hands
- 4 Make some tea
- 5 Order from the tableside tablet
- 6 Pick up your sushi from the delivery lane
- 7 Enjoy with wasabi and soy sauce
- 8 Learn more about the favorite menu items
- 9 Try the non-sushi menu!
- 10 Return your plates to calculate your bill
Let’s learn a bit about kaiten-zushi
Kaiten-zushi restaurants can be found almost anywhere in Japan, and are recently becoming popular overseas as well. Kaiten-zushi was first invented in 1958 in Higashiosaka, a city in Osaka Prefecture, by SHIRAISHI Yoshiaki, a businessman who was inspired when he saw conveyor belts used in a beer factory production line. Before long, he had come up with the concept of a conveyor belt lane of spinning sushi.
This time, accompanied by my friend, Taiwanese author RIICHI Chang, I visited Kurasushi Asakusa ROX, which opened in January 2020.
First, enter the restaurant
Entering the restaurant, you’ll find a reception station. Use the touch panel to print your ticket, then once your number is shown on the LCD screen, follow the instructions to your seat.
The restaurant is designed to enhance visitors’ appreciation of Japanese culture as they enjoy sushi, and has been heralded as the Japanese restaurant industry’s first “Japanese culture promotion format restaurant”. As soon as you enter, you’ll notice traditional Japanese decorations including ukiyo-e (woodblock prints), immediately creating a festive atmosphere.
You’ll be greeted by humorous okame and hyottoko masks, and even find a festival stall space where you can try your hand at games such as shateki (shooting gallery).
The boldly unconventional interior design was produced by creative director SATO Kashiwa. Inspired by UTAGAWA Hiroshige’s artwork, Famous View in Edo: Amusements While Waiting for the Moon on the Twenty-sixth Night in Takanawa, he recreated the scene of people gathering under pavilion roofs to enjoy Japanese cuisine.
After taking your seat, wipe your hands
After taking your seat, first, wipe your hands. Using a small towel called oshibori to clean your hands before dining is an important part of Japanese culture and etiquette.
At Kurasushi, to maximize the table space for each customer and create a sense of openness, condiments such as shoyu (soy sauce) and gari (pickled ginger), as well as utensils such as chopsticks and spoons, are concealed within the table.
Make some tea
Dining at a Japanese kaiten-zushi begins with making your own tea. Take the powdered green tea out from the table, and add two heaped spoons to your teacup.
After adding the powdered green tea to your teacup, use the hot water dispenser at the table to fill your cup. Be mindful that the water is very hot, and take care not to burn yourself!
Order from the tableside tablet
Once the tea is made, use the touch panel installed at your table to begin ordering. Kurasushi is frequented by visitors from overseas, and the touch panel can be set to operate in four languages: Japanese, English, Chinese, and Korean.
Let’s start by ordering some classic sushi dishes. To order, choose the topping, select the volume of rice, input the number of pieces, and press the order button. Now, just wait for your sushi to arrive! There’s no need to say a word, making ordering a very simple and convenient experience, even for customers who do not speak Japanese.
Pick up your sushi from the delivery lane
Shortly after placing your order, the sushi will arrive via the special delivery lane. When sushi plates stop adjacent to your table, pick them up and place them on your table. If you’re not certain what to order from the pictures on the touch panel, keep an eye on the regular rotation lane for any particularly delicious-looking pieces. Sushi on the regular rotation lane is available for anyone to take – just be mindful not to take sushi on the delivery lane that someone else has ordered!
Enjoy with wasabi and soy sauce
Sushi at Kurasushi is served without wasabi. If you’d like to add some, you’ll find packets of wasabi regularly rotating around the conveyor belt.
Dispense some wasabi onto the sushi plate, then pick up your preferred amount with chopsticks and place it atop a piece of sushi. If you don’t care for the aromatic heat of wasabi, of course it’s also fine to go sabi-nuki (hold the wasabi).
The soy sauce bottles at Kurasushi allow you to control the precise amount, so there is no need to pour out soy sauce into a dish and dip your sushi. Simply add soy sauce to the top of your sushi, a drop at a time.
It’s perfectly acceptable to enjoy sushi with chopsticks, or with your hands. Certain styles of sushi, such as gunkan-maki (“battleship sushi”, wrapped in a strip of seaweed to form a cup) used to serve toppings like ikura (salmon roe), are easier to eat without spilling by hand.
At Kurasushi, there are two sauces offered at the table. Pictured on the left is amadare, a sweetened soy-based sauce. In the center is standard shoyu (soy sauce). At Kurasushi Asakusa ROX, which is frequented by customers from overseas, a third option of gluten-free soy sauce is provided, pictured on the right.
The thick amadare is well suited for toppings such as anago (salt-water eel) and shellfish.
When enjoying sushi, don’t forget the gari. This pickled ginger serves a palate cleanser between different types of sushi. Each table has a box with gari, so serve as much as you will eat onto your plate.
medium fatty tuna マグロ中トロ chu-toro
A fattier cut of tuna, enjoyed for its melt-in-the-mouth texture.
marinated tuna 漬けマグロ zuke-maguro
Lean tuna meat that has been marinated in soy sauce.
Salmon サーモン salmon
Fresh, raw salmon is a timeless kaiten-zushi favorite.
Red Snapper タイ tai
Appreciate the delicate savory flavor of white-meat fish.
Squid イカ ika
Perfectly-prepared squid is tender and sweet.
Yellowtail ハマチ hamachi
Farmed yellowtail, also known as buri (amberjack), has a clean taste and tender texture.
Salmon Roe イクラ ikura
Salmon roe served in a cup made by wrapping seaweed around sushi rice. Enjoy the pleasant popping sensation.
Sardine イワシ iwashi
Sardine is a classic blue-backed fish for sushi. Served with a dab of ginger.
Mackerel サバ saba
Marinated mackerel is enjoyed for its sumptuous fat.
For those who would like to try sushi, but are not entirely confident about eating raw fish fear not! Kurasushi offers many types of sushi which do not contain raw fish.
Simmered Salt-water Eel 煮穴子 nianago
Indulge in an entire salt-water eel per piece. The amadare sauce is a perfect match!
Japanese omelette たまご tamago
This sweet-and-savory layered omelette is a childhood favorite in Japan.
Beef Sushi 牛肉寿司 gyu-niku zushi
This luxurious bite features Omi brand beef.
Prawn Tempura えび天 ebiten
Fresh, crispy prawn tempura with sushi rice wrapped in nori seaweed – a mouthwatering combination!
When you go out for kaiten-zushi, don’t forget to try the wide variety of non-sushi items on the menu. Chawan-mushi (steamed custard), udon noodles, kakiage (fritters), and korokke (croquettes) are some of the most popular at kaiten-zushi restaurants throughout Japan. If you’ve come all the way to Japan, branch out from sushi and try these authentic favorites as well!
Steamed Custard 茶碗蒸し chawan-mushi
This steamed dish is made from eggs blended with dashi stock. While it has no specific connection to sushi, it is now considered a classic kaiten-zushi dish.
Fritters かき揚げ kakiage
A type of vegetable tempura featuring small bits instead of whole vegetables. This is a corn fritter.
Croquette コロッケ croquette
These breaded and fried potato patties come in a variety of flavors. Kurasushi offers a version seasoned with fragrant curry powder.
Udon うどん udon
A simple and satisfying udon. Kurasushi also offers excellent noodle dishes.
Don’t forget to save some room for dessert! Western desserts such as ice cream and cakes are also offered, but let’s take a look at some traditional Japanese sweets.
Bracken Jelly Cake わらびもち warabimochi
This soft and subtle traditional Japanese sweet is a must-try! Dusted with kinako (toasted soybean powder).
Candied Sweet Potato 大学芋 daigaku-imo
Deep-fried sweet potatoes in a honey coating!
Return your plates to calculate your bill
After you’ve finished a plate, deposit it into the plate return slot at your table. The machine will automatically keep track of how many plates you’ve had, making it simple and smooth to get your bill.
To get your bill, you’ll need to scan the ticket you got from the reception machine when you entered the restaurant. Be sure not to misplace your ticket. After scanning your ticket, you’ll be given payment options.
Dining at Kurasushi Asakusa ROX is as much fun as it is filling! The restaurant also offers booth seating ideal for families. In addition to great food, this is a chance to experience genuine Japanese culture – don’t miss it during your trip to Japan! Kurasushi has locations throughout Japan, so you can also try the sushi in this article at most major cities outside of Tokyo.
* The information in this article is current as of September 2022. There are seasonal variations to this restaurant’s menu.
Established in 1977 in Sakai City, Osaka Prefecture. As of September 2022, there are now about 610 locations, not only throughout Japan, but also in the United States and Taiwan.