One bit of Japanese cuisine that everyone should experience at least once during their stay in Japan is "Kaiten" (Revolving) Sushi, which is kind of the "fast food" of sushi. These popular restaurants feature pre-prepared plates of various sushi that circulate along a conveyor belt in front of the patrons. You simply pick out which ones you'd like to eat and then after your done, the waitress counts the platters to total up your bill.
There are several Kaiten Sushi places in Tsukuba, including a new one I'd like to recommend to Alien Times readers. All other sushi places I have eaten at before have several price categories depending on the contents, but "Otaru Sushi" is different, in that all the plates it offers are the same price - 105 yen - regardless of the contents. While that means some of the more exotic, pricy items are lacking from the menu, it certain makes the final bill a good bit cheaper. And since the quality of the sushi is quite good (at least to my unsophisticated taste buds anyway), it's a great place to go give kaiten sushi a try.
Otaru Sushi is located on Nishi Odori at the second traffic signal south of Minami Odori. You have your choice of sitting at bar stools along a counter (which is typical of kaiten sushi), but you can also sit at a table for 4 with the items flowing by the inner side of the table in easy reach of whoever is sitting on the inside. It's definitely "self-serve", as you need to reach up and get your own cup for the tea, which you make yourself by putting in a tea bag and dispensing hot water from the tap located at each table. If you want a bit of soy sauce, there are small plates for that, and then you just dip your sushi into it for added flavor. There is also a container of sliced ginger to eat with the sushi.
Other kaiten sushi places have different colors or designs on their plates, but Otaru has only two colors of sushi plates: one for sushi with "wasabi" (green horseradish paste) and the other without. The gray platters have sushi without any wasabi while the other design will include a glob of wasabi under the fish or whatever is on the rice. If you find wasabi a bit to strong for your taste, you can always just lift up the fish and "de-wasabify" (to use scientific language) your sushi. There are also a few platters of non-sushi items, such as fruit, cake and juice. Nevertheless, these items are all 105 yen as well.
Above the table is a call box from which you can place an order if you don't see the item you want on the conveyor belt. While I didn't try it, presumably this would have to be done in Japanese. There is also a round button next to the call box that you push when you are finished, and a waitress will come to count up the plates and write out your check to take to the cashier as you leave. You can expect to be able to eat quite a nourishing and tasty meal for under 1000 yen. Bon appetite!
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