There's perhaps nothing more intriguing than the idea of food that zips out of a kitchen on a conveyor belt. The first food that comes to mind when thinking of this conveyor-belt-dining method is sushi, and it's slowly becoming more popular. These types of restaurants, called kaiten-zushi in Japan, can now be seen in places like California and New York, and even throughout Europe.

For those who happen to live near one or plan on visiting Japan in the near future, there's plenty to know before grabbing one of these zooming plates. From how to order at a kaiten-zushi to how it all works, here's a guide to making the best out of a conveyer belt sushi experience.

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What's It Like To Eat At A Conveyor Belt Sushi Restaurant?

For starters, it's not as fast-paced as many people might think. Rolls of sushi don't come zipping along down the line at a pace that's too quick for diners to realize what's happening; in fact, it all functions quite slowly. In fact, it's slower than the conveyor belt one might use in the grocery store to get their items to the cashier more quickly. In some restaurants, the boats that sushi arrive in may simply just be plates, or they can be as fancy as wooden vessels.

Some restaurants are a bit more theatrical and may feature actual miniature bullet trains or miniature cars that pull sushi around the conveyor belt, or the track. Diners get to pick and choose which types of sushi they want to eat, and these can vary from strictly vegetarian to a roll that's more involved. More often than not, diners will also be able to order miso soup, egg custard, and other Japanese specialties that might not come around on the conveyor belt.

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Pricing At A Kaiten-Zushi

The great thing about a conveyor belt sushi restaurant is the fact that the cost of dining there is usually much cheaper than any other sushi restaurant. Not only is it mostly self-serve, but diners are also pulling off plates that might contain a few rolls of sushi rather than an entire roll, which means they're not paying for a full eight-piece appetizer. Of course, some restaurants do send the entire roll around on the conveyer belt - it all depends on where one is dining. Additionally, diners have the chance to try multiple sushi rolls without filling up on just one, which is a nice perk of a kaiten-zushi. Pricing for a serving of sushi usually starts at 100 yen which equals about 89 cents in USD. Sushi can range in price up to 500 yen, which is about $4.46 USD.

Some restaurants may even have a flat rate for sushi dishes, while others may slightly exceed the price of 500 yen, depending on the ingredients in the sushi.

What Sushi Can Be Found At A Kaiten-Zushi

Diners at a conveyor belt sushi restaurant will be in for a full variety of sushi dishes. Many times, the sushi that is commonly seen going around is simple rolls. These can include rolls such as a cucumber roll (kappamaki), tuna roll (maguro), salmon roll, and shrimp rolls. Additionally, items such as miso soup, fried foods, chawanmushi, sashimi, and even desserts can be ordered from the kitchen if diners don't see them on the conveyor belt. More often than not, diners can expect one to two pieces of sushi to come out on a plate, which allows for plenty of mixing and matching, so to speak, of sushi varieties. Special orders can usually be placed through a tablet at the counter, as many restaurants now have fully automated systems for ordering.

Grabbing one of these sushi plates is made easy thanks to seating that's spread out around the conveyor belt. The seats are within close proximity to the track so that diners can take what they want when it comes around, without having to get up or move around in order to do so. Make sure to keep an eye on that plate, though - one distraction and it'll already be past the next diner!

Kaiten-Zushi & Revolving Sushi Bars In The U.S.

The U.S. is now home to a good number of popular conveyor belt sushi restaurants, including these listed below.

Sushi-Rama

  • Locations: Denver (two), Aurora, and Lone Tree, Colorado

Kura Sushi

  • Location: Chinatown, Washington, D.C.

Kura Revolving Sushi Bar

  • Locations (Varied): Schaumburg, Illinois | Washington, D.C. | Fort Lee, New Jersey | Doraville, Georga | Houston, Carrollton, Sugar Land, Plano, & Austin, Texas | Irvine, California | Troy, Michigan

Sushi Station

  • Location: Rolling Meadows, Illinois

Rockin' Rolls Sushi

  • Location: Durham, North Carolina

Sakana-Ya Sushi Bar

  • Location: Syracuse, New York

Sushi + Rotary Sushi Bar

  • Locations: Chicago & Aurora, Illinois

Revolving Sushi Factory

  • Location: Keenesaw, Georgia

Wabi Sabi Rotary

  • Location: Chicago, Illinois

Wasabi

  • Location: McLean, Virginia

Next: Japanese Food Etiquette: The Dos And Don'ts Of Dining In Japan