It’s rare to meet someone who doesn’t love sushi – especially foreigners.
But sushi is expensive and therefore very difficult to like- at least as a broke college student. A lot of the time when I’m out with friends, we see a regular sushi restaurant and are like “Hey! Let’s eat sushi!” Then we go in, look at the menu and are like “Yeah… never mind. Ramen sounds good too.”
That is, of course, until we found rotation sushi.
Rotation sushi (or conveyor belt sushi) is exactly what it sounds like: Sushi (on a little plate) on a conveyor belt that snakes around all the tables, so you can pick your favorite sushi – no wait. The best part, though, is the price. Most plates are 100 yen (about $1.20), and most plates have 2 pieces of sushi. So a “full” meal of 18 pieces of sushi, usually about my limit, runs up to about 900 yen (or about $10.50). This really isn’t bad, you know, considering the fact you just ate delicious sushi.
So if you want to eat rotation sushi, here is how to do it!
1. Find a sushi joint. Make sure it’s a real 回転寿司 place, because like I said before, nice (or even regular quality) sushi can get pretty pricey.
2. Give your name at the front desk. Hopefully they will seat you right away, but I’ve had to wait up to thirty minutes when it’s crowded.
3. Fill up your own water and tea. Most places come with cups near the table or off by the water dispenser. I haven’t been to a place that serves you water – so don’t just sit around waiting for them to serve you!
The two places I like to go have powered green tea off to the side, if you want to use that, just dump one small scoop into your cup and fill the rest up with hot water.
4. Grab a plate and dig in!
General rule of thumb: plates are 100 yen. If you just eat 100 yen plates (with two pieces of sushi) it’s pretty hard to eat more than $15 (and yes, this is a challenge). There are some exceptions to this 100 yen for 2 pieces of sushi rule.
For the more expensive fish, plates will come with only one piece of sushi on it.
For the really expensive fish, plates will come double stacked, with one piece of sushi.
You pay at the end for the number of plates that you have – so they make you take two plates for one piece of sushi, meaning you pay 200 yen ($2.40) for each piece. Anyways, depending on your taste, you can eat as cheaply (or expensively) as you would like.
5. Figure out your favorite sushi and order lots more! The sushi, of course, is somewhat random when it revolves around your table – so it’s annoying to just wait for your favorites to come along.
That’s why they let your order sushi too! Next to your table, above where the sushi is rotating by, there is a machine that usually looks like this.
The menu on the machine comes with pictures, for people (or little kids) who can’t read the Japanese.
When you order your sushi, it comes out relatively fast – a couple minutes maximum. My favorite is the egg sushi, so I always order a couple of those. The sushi you order comes out on a special plate – the color varies from place to place, but it usually looks something like this.
And once you get the order, the empty container goes back to the kitchen. You can tell it’s YOUR order (as opposed to someone else’s) because the machine your ordered on will start beeping as the plate approaches. That tells you that the next plate is what you ordered – so you don’t accidentally take someone elses.
You don’t have to just order sushi, though. You can order edamame boiled, salty soybeans, miso or udon soup, and lots of other “large” meals. They come in special bowls that cost anywhere between 200 – 500 yen ($2.40 – $6.00).
6. Once you are finished eating, slide the plates down a hole on the side of your table. It automatically counts the plates and rings up your total. My favorite place also includes a game – every five plates you put in starts a slot machine. If you win, you can get a keychain or folder. Not all places have this, though. Mostly just the places frequented by families with small children.
It’s smart, because if we have an odd number – like three or four plates, we usually grab an extra sushi to even it out and get another chance at the lottery.
But then again when you win, it’s hard to decide who gets the prize. There’s always a bit of fighting involved. Not by me, of course. I would never fight for a prize. I’m too “old” for that.
7. Call the waiter over. They will ring up your total based on the number of plates you feed the machine and the number of “special orders” (like udon, edamame, tempura, and soup) you ordered. Then you just pay at the register at the front and leave.
Easy, right? You should try it!
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