Conveyor Belt Sushi

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Conveyor belt sushi

Conveyor belt sushi (kaiten-zushi) is the popular English translation for Japanese fast-food sushi sometimes called a ‘sushi-g0-round.’ In Australia, it is known as ‘sushi train’ In South Korea, conveyor belt sushi has become popular and is known as ‘revolving sushi.’

Plates with the sushi are placed on a rotating conveyor belt that winds through the restaurant and moves past every table and counter seat. Customers may place special orders, but most simply pick their selections from a steady stream of fresh sushi moving along the conveyor belt. The final bill is based on the number and type of plates of the consumed sushi.

Some restaurants use a fancier presentation such as miniature wooden ‘sushi boats’ traveling small canals or miniature locomotive cars. Busy sushi restaurants serve the best quality, as the sushi gets eaten faster and does not get dry while rotating for a long time. Some restaurants have RFID tags or other systems in place to remove sushi that has rotated for too long.

Conveyor belt sushi was invented by Yoshiaki Shiraishi (1914–2001), who had problems staffing his small sushi restaurant and had difficulties managing the restaurant by himself. He got the idea of a conveyor belt sushi after watching beer bottles on a conveyor belt in an Asahi brewery. After five years of development, including the design of the conveyor belt and the speed of operations, Shiraishi opened the first conveyor belt sushi Mawaru Genroku Sushi in Osaka in 1958, eventually expanding to up to 250 restaurants all over Japan. Shiraishi also invented robotic sushi, served by robots, but this idea has not had commercial success.

Initially in a conveyor belt sushi restaurant, all customers were seated to face the conveyor belt, but this was not popular with groups. Subsequently, tables were added at right angles to the conveyor belt, allowing up to six people to sit at one table. This also reduced the length of conveyor belt needed to serve a certain number of people.

A new variant of conveyor belt sushi has a touch screen monitor at every table, showing a virtual aquarium with many fish. The customer can order the sushi by touching the type of fish, which then is brought to the table by conveyor belt. Conveyor belt sushi has also inspired conveyor belt dim sum.

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