As we have demonstrated it by now in our Japan food series, it is not all about sushi’s! But a trip to Japan without trying a sushiya would be incomplete!
We have tried many different restaurants: local sushiyas with the chef behind the counter slicing the ultra fresh filets of raw yellowtail, salmon, maguro tuna, sea bream or pieces of scallops, shrimps, crabs, octopus, or other species unknown to us, and arranging them elegantly on a bed of rice; fish market stalls where we would order dons, or slices of fish arranged on a bowl of rice; supermarkets with sushi bentos we would eat in the Shinkansen high-speed train; or kaiten-zushi, the automated version of the sushi bar.
In a kaiten-zushi, we are seated at a table perpendicular to a conveyor belt proposing small plates of sushi’s. We just pick the ones we want to try and get charged by the amount of plates piled up at the end of the meal. A tactile screen above the table allows us to look at the detailed menu and order precisely what we want, from miso soups and salads to a wide variety of nigiri’s (a slice of fish on a rice bed), maki’s (a cylinder made of a piece of fish and rice wrapped up in a nori seaweed) or sashimi’s (slices of fish), and even desserts and drinks. Once our order is approaching, the screen starts flashing and playing a tune warning us to grab it. The instant matcha tea powder is on the table and we just need to pour hot water from the table tap to fix ourselves a tea. The pickled ginger (gari) to clean our palate between different dishes is on self-serve, as well as the soy sauce and wasabi. When sushi bars tend to be a bit posh in Europe, in Japan kaiten-zushi places are more like fast food and quite popular with families. If they tend to be value-minded, given the turnover, the sushis are very fresh and it is a great way of sampling some while avoiding the language barrier.
Whether it is the kaiten-zushi, the market stalls or the sushiya’s, the atmosphere is quite different in every one of them, and each will be a memorable and delicious experience!
- Probably the best sushi’s we sampled in Japan, this interactive map points out to the food stalls of the Tsukiji market in Tokyo.
- Check out this interactive map (quick tutorial) for the specific details to help you plan your trip and more articles and photos (zoom out) about the area!