The idea of having delicious food revolving around us endlessly sounds like something dreams are made of, but the reality is that 回転寿司/kaiten sushi are becoming more and more commonplace, even outside of Japan. Seemingly ubiquitous with cheap and cheerful Japanese cuisine, these are sometimes also referred to as sushi trains and feature diners seated at a counter or booth while a conveyor belt of sushi, sashimi and other Japanese snacks and desserts pass you by. You simply need to pounce on your desired food item, devour and keep the highly stackable plate for counting and bill-paying.
Here in Japan, they are everywhere. Places like Sushiro, Hamazushi, Kurasushi and Kappasushi are well established and affordable chains, acting pretty much like the McDonald’s or Burger King of the sushi world. I find the quality can be hit and miss but with some places going for as low as 100 yen a plate, you’re getting what you pay for. Which isn’t to say all kaitenzushi are basic. Like with many things in Japan, there are always gems hiding in nooks that you just need to look for.
Located right next to Meguro Station (albeit at the very back of the shopping arcade), Katsu Midori is more of a ‘hidden in plain sight’ destination. It’s popular with locals so be prepared to queue 5 minutes or an hour, depending on the time and day of visit. We moseyed over late afternoon on a Sunday as a “second lunch” option and noticed the booming takeaway service happening at the front of the shop.
The set up is fairly standard with a kitchen of sorts in the centre pumping out sushi and comfortable counter seats all around. You can order directly from the nearest sushi chef in front of you or via a tablet that boasts a seemingly endless variety of nigiri, gunkan, maki, sashimi, plus hot dishes, drinks and snacks. (Check out the menu and prices here!) All condiments you’ll need are handy (although wasabi needs to be ordered), but particularly noteworthy is the green tea powder which produces a delicious tea upon the dispensing of hot water from the tap.
If you’re a tuna or salmon fan, you’re in luck because there are plenty of variations, some seared, some from slight more obscured parts of the fish. I enjoyed all of my plates, even the maguro sashimi medley, despite the fact that it was slightly frozen still.
A noteworthy mention is the 黄金寿司 or golden sushi, consisting of mince tuna, seared salmon, uni and ikura aka the most extra thing on the menu. It was an absolute umami bomb, made better by the fact that the uni was actually quite fresh, which can be pretty hard to get at a sushi train.
Another plate I really enjoyed was the seared scallops. It’s not normally on my usual sushi rotation list but they looked so plump and upon tasting it, was really happy with my choice! Fresh and clean with a nice hint of char at the end. Also a nice little perk of the tablet ordering system is you can specify each piece of sushi to your taste, with options like ‘less rice’, ‘no mayo’ and ‘no spring onion’. Picky eaters and weight watchers, rejoice!
Last but definitely not least, was their tamagoyaki. A staple and usually one of the cheapest things on the menu but I think a good tamagoyaki indicates a great restaurant. The strong yellow hue was what drew me to order this and I was really pleased that it wasn’t too sweet as some can be and more on the savoury side.
There’s a common misconception about living in Japan, that you’ll be eating sushi everyday. And while I unfortunately don’t, it’s certainly possible with the number of conveyor sushi places around to suit all budget types. Katsu Midori has definitely been one of the better ones I’ve been to. I think there are about 9 different outlets scattered across Tokyo and Yokohama and while quality can vary from shop to shop, I do recommend checking it out if you happen to spot one in the area.