Japan "Week" and Kaitenzushi (Conveyor Belt Sushi)

I checked out Grand Central’s annual "Japan Week" celebration yesterday. Due to prep work for a Nordic event across the way (in Vanderbilt Hall), it’s not as large as previous Japan Week get-ups, but that doesn’t actually matter. More importantly, Japan Week ends tomorrow evening.

This year, to celebrate the shinkansen reaching Hokkaido (from Honshu, the largest Japanese island), Hokkaido is one of the overarching themes, both for food and for crafts.

Mitsuwa Marketplace is also sponsoring a kaitenzushi booth. I tried a few plates, though prices go as high as $10 for two nigiri.

Have any of you tried conveyor belt sushi in NY? Can anyone see these places (eventually) becoming a trend here? Before yesterday’s meal, I ate at the long-defunct Genki Sushi (which was by Grand Central) and East in Kips Bay. Neither was a good show in the least.

I ate at them often in Japan just to see how bizarre the concoctions could get, and because some were 24 hours. But if you’re looking for quality fish… I’ll share a laugh with you.

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There used to be one in Penn Station, in the Northeast corner of the Amtrak/NJTransit waiting room. It was as you’d expect.

Notable at the two Kaitenzushis we stumbled into in Tokyo were the boiling water taps at each seat for self-serve tea replenishment.

Yeesh!..when was this?

Indeed.

Nearly every kaitenzushi in Japan has those taps. Some offer tea bags, others, matcha.

Mid to late '80s, I think. I ate there a couple of times. The quality was on par with the pre-made stuff you can now get in supermarkets. I don’t think it lasted more than a couple of years, not because it was terrible, but because people probably weren’t that into eating raw fish that had been traveling around Penn Station uncovered.

Conveyor belt sushi skeeves me out! At least in nyc. I know restaurants operate on a very slim margin and i just can’t imagine they would use a quality product if there’s a potential for someone to not buy it.
However i do think that places like wasabi on 7th ave and 40th st have great potential here- their sushi isn’t exactly spectacular but it is certainly a step above the sketchy supermarket stuff (ok whole foods isn’t sketchy) and nice that you can buy a few pcs of this and that, they also obviously have a high turnover rate- which is a big question mark for conveyor belt sushi and supermarket sushi.

I’m sad i missed japan week! Sounds like a great event

I’ve had a lot of very good kaiten-zushi! (In the US, only in San Francisco, not in NY)

There’s quite a range in quality from supermarket refrigerated sushi and Jiro. Conveyor belts can be pretty good if it’s crowded and there’s a lot of turnover. I’ve been to a lot of so-so sushi restaurants with worse quality than what I’ve had on a conveyor belt.

“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

― Jonathan Gold