While there is no perfect comparison for fast-food in the sushi world, kaiten sushi (or 回転寿司/kaitenzushi, as its pronounced in Japanese), might be the closest thing to draw a comparison to.
It is a much more affordable and convenient kind of sushi restaurant, most distinctly characterised by the long and winding conveyor belt that twists and weaves itself through the restaurant. This conveyor belt carries the plates of ready-made sushi past the customers, who can take whatever they wish and pay for it later.
Kaitenzushi tends to be much cheaper than your average sushi restaurant, and this is due to the fact that they don't have to hire as much staff as regular sushi restaurants. The idea for the kaiten sushi restaurant model came to Yoshiaki Shiraishi who had problems with staffing his small sushi restaurant.
It was difficult to manage the store by himself. Thus, he set out to find a solution for this problem. He soon got the idea for the conveyor belt sushi after watching beer bottles on a conveyor belt in a Asahi brewery, and after about five years of development, Shiraishi opened the very first conveyor belt sushi Mawaru Genroku Sushi in Higashiosaka in the year of 1958. The restaurant eventually expanded to 250 restaurants all over Japan.
Today, kaitenzushi is a very popular form of sushi restaurant and can be found across the country. Customers can just select the sushi they want to eat as it passes by, and if they don’t like what they see on the belt, they may just directly order it from one of the chefs. Not just sushi, sometimes desserts, soups, beverages are also served on the belt. Meanwhile, condiments like wasabi, soy sauce and pickled ginger are oftentimes self-served.
Kaitenzushi restaurants keep track of how long certain sushi plates have been on the conveyor belt so they can remove the plates that have been in rotation for too long. Some restaurants use different types of plates to indicate prices, while some others have a flat rate for all plates.
This type of sushi restaurant isn’t just a favorite destination among more budget-minded people who still want to enjoy a meal with sushi, it is also a welcome destination for families with young children, since bringing children to a more traditional sushi restaurant is usually a hassle.
In Japan, it is also noted that non-Japanese speaking customers can enjoy that they need no high language skills to navigate ordering a meal in a Kaitenzushi restaurant. Overall, it is a very fun and exceedingly delightful experience!
We, at Sakae Sushi, are proud to be the first sushi belt restaurant in Singapore! Make sure you try our delicious sushi in our outlets.