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We noticed lately that our parents have been frequent diners at Kappa Sushi. They aren’t sushi lovers, but they love going here after work to get some quick light bites. There are a variety of chain restaurants in Japan that offer kaiten sushi or kaitenzushi, as pronounced in Japanese. “Kaiten” in Japanese means “rotation” and food is being placed on a conveyor belt that rotates around the restaurant. If you’ve never been to a kaiten sushi restaurant because you don’t like sushi, don’t let the name fool you. Most of these places offer more than just sushi on the menu.
Last year, when we visited Japan, our parents took us to Sushiro, another popular conveyer belt sushi restaurant that is located all over Japan. We also went to a kaiten sushi restaurant in Tokyo a couple of years ago called Kura Sushi. This one in particular is pretty popular with families since you can play fun games and win prizes. The kids love it (and adults like Crystal).
Our parents seem to like Kappa Sushi more than the other kaiten sushi restaurants because 1) it’s not as busy 2) the food is better, 3) you can order smaller portions and 4) they have a portable menu tablet you can move around freely; whereas, the other kaiten sushi restaurants have the menu tablet stationary at one end of the table. We particularly liked the cute mini bullet trains serving our food.
Since many of these establishments are chain restaurants, you are getting average food. We’re not saying it’s horrible, but it’s also not the best dishes you will eat in Japan. If you are traveling to Japan and want to try some sushi or other Japanese dishes in small portions, we think these places are a great place to start. You get small portions at a great price so if you don’t like it, you won’t feel like it was a waste of money or food.
We had a variety of non-sushi dishes at Kappa Sushi and listed our top five that we think you should try:
The Japanese Hamburger Steak, or as we call it “Hambāgu” is very juicy and melts in your mouth. It’s usually topped with demi-glacé sauce and sometimes a boiled egg is placed on top as well. At Kappa Sushi they topped their hambāgu with melted cheese. Although the name may sound like it’s just a hamburger with some melted cheese on top, it’s actually nothing like that and is quite similar to a Salisbury Steak.
Udon is one of our favorite comfort foods and we especially enjoy this hot noodle dish in the winter. The broth is light and the thick noodles are traditionally made of wheat flour noodle. We usually like our udon with a ton of green scallions and tempura. The bowl we got at Kappa sushi was topped with green onions, abura-age (a type of deep-fried tofu), and kamaboko (a halfmoon-shaped fish cake).
Kara-age is a common appetizer at restaurants and you can even buy them at various convenience stores. In our family, Crystal, Dad, and our niece order this dish pretty much every time we dine out. It’s dark meat chicken that is marinated in freshly grated ginger and garlic, soy sauce, mirin, and sake. It is then deep fried and often served with a slice of lemon which brings out the flavors.
4. Inari Zushi
A typical Inari zushi is made of sushi rice wrapped inside a seasoned deep-fried tofu pouch. Inari zushi is technically sushi, but it is not something you order at nice sushi restaurants. You can easily find these at supermarkets and at convenience stores. I often ate this at picnics or put it in my lunch when I was a teenager.
5. Japanese Cheesecake
Japanese cheesecake is the best. It is very different from American cheesecake and is amazingly light and fluffy. This cheesecake was called the “Rich Cheesecake” and it was rich in flavors indeed.
Some Tips Before You Go
The items that are rotating around the restaurant are typically sushi dishes. If you want to order some of the items we got, it’s usually a special order where you have to order it on the digital menu. The menu at Kappa Sushi is only in Japanese, but luckily everything is pictured so it should be fairly easy for someone who can’t read Japanese.
There is free green tea at the table which you can make yourself. There will be a container at your table with green tea powder that you place in your cup. Then at the end of the table, towards the conveyer belt, you will see a button where the hot water will disperse. You’ll have to push really hard to get the water to come out. They do this so that little kids can’t press the button so easily and burn themselves.
Closing the Bill
When you are finished with your meal, there is a button on the electronic menu to have an attendant come by to ring up your order. Once this is done, then you can take your check to the register up front.
If you are a little intimidated by the menu not having an English option, we suggest checking out Sushiro or Kura Sushi. They have an English menu and also have many of the same dishes we had at Kappa Sushi.