Shovel Time: Kura Sushi
The beauty of being anywhere outside the US on Thanksgiving is that you can avoid turkey because turkey is not good, though I love stuffing, gravy, and all the accoutrements. (Well, they did have outrageously priced frozen turkey at the Carrefour in the Mall of the Emirates.) It’s one of my favorite weeks to travel, plus if you have an office job it’s two days off paid.
There is also beauty in conveyor belt a.k.a. kaiten sushi in Japan because it’s not all horrible. It was perfectly fine to eat pre-made sushi at a chain on Thanksgiving in Kyoto. This particular restaurant, which was walking distance from my Airbnb and next door to the best 99-cent (yen?) store I’ve encountered in Japan (even better than Don Quijote because the aisles were spacious and it wasn’t crowded) already had a wait even though it was early.
Most of these places aren’t terribly English-friendly (and when they call your number for a table, you probably won’t know it) but if you have basic sushi knowledge it’s easy to deduce what’s what based on the photos displayed on the laminated menus and touch screen. You can also just grab a container with different colored plastic plates as it goes by. If it’s not to your liking, it’s a pretty cheap mistake.
You could also order noodles and cooked dishes but why would you? But then, I’ve taken to ordering fries at these places, so…
Surprises: I didn’t realize shiraki a.k.a. cod milt a.k.a cod semen was so pedestrian that you could pre-make it, send it on its way, and assume someone would pick it, since it’s more of a specialty item here. Also, monkfish liver (ankimo) is a standard offering.
When you push your empty plates down a chute at each table (at first, I was scared to do this because it wasn’t clear that the metal door was for this purpose) a video is triggered for your enjoyment and each color-coded plate is tallied and added to your bill. I guess we put away 17 plates.
There are hundreds of locations (I had no idea) and even a bunch in California and Texas. There is, however, no cod sperm on the American menus.
Kura Sushi * 440 Ebisucho, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto, Japan