We often get students who want to eat at kaiten-zushi (conveyor-belt sushi) restaurants, but aren’t sure how. So we thought we’d provide a handy reference!
First of all, every kaiten-zushi restaurant obviously has a different layout, but they all share the same basic features: when you sit down at the counter, you should see a holder for green tea (bags or powder), some cups, and a tap for hot water. Feel free to make yourself some tea – it’s free! You may also ask for water if you prefer, and some places may have iced mugi-cha available as well.
Next, there should be a visual guide with some pictures of plates and prices written on them, taped to the counter or somewhere on the walls. You’ll see each type of sushi come past on a different colour plate on the conveyor belt. Each colour signifies a different price, corresponding with the abovementioned guide.
There should be a tray with soy sauce, wasabi and ginger on the table. Use these in the separate bowls provided – not straight out the containers!
Now the fun starts. Grab a sushi plate off the belt and chow down! Generally it’s considered bad form to drown your sushi in soy sauce, and if you soak it, the rice will fall apart anyway. Try to dip the fish only in soy sauce, then put the whole piece in your mouth at one time.
Most kaiten-zushi places also have other dishes to offer that aren’t on the conveyor belt. If you see something you’d like in the menu, you can just order it from the chef directly. Don’t worry if you can’t read the kanji on the menu – you can generally just point to the dish you want, and they’ll prepare it for you.
Stack your plates in a tower when done. When you’re finished with your meal, restaurant staff will come and run a tally of how many different colour plates are in your plate tower and charge you accordingly. Easy!