回転寿司 kaiten-zushi—conveyor-belt sushi

On Sunday evening we went out with my father-in-law to our excellent local sushi restaurant: Kuroshio.

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Although it is easy walking distance from our house, we went by car because we drove to pick up Yuko’s dad on the way.

Kuroshio is a 回転寿司 kaiten-zushi restaurant, where the food rides around on a conveyor belt and you pick up anything you fancy as it passes by. In this case, however, they mostly don’t put out the food, and what actually travels around on the conveyor belt is pictures of the food. This ensures that the food is freshly made to order.

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As well as choosing from the belt, you can order directly from the menu. There are dishes at various prices from 100 yen up to 500 yen.

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The colour of the plate is different depending on the price. At the end of the meal they count all the plates of each colour to determine the total cost.

Typically, a meal with 4 or 5 plates and a drink comes to around 1500 yen (€15) each.

You can choose to sit western style at a counter or a booth, or Japanese style at a low table. If you choose this option, you take off your shoes on the way in, and sit or squat on a cushion on the floor.

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One of my favourite Japanese foods is gari or pickled ginger. Yuko makes very nice gari. In the sushi restaurant, it’s provided free for you to help yourself. Eaten between courses of different kinds of sushi, it is supposed to clean and freshen the palate. This one is pale; sometimes it is coloured pink or has a natural pink colour.

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Also provided on the table are various kinds of soy sauce and wasabi. You pour the soy sauce into a bowl and then mix in the wasabi with your chopsticks.

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Then when you pick up each piece of sushi, you dip it into the mixture before putting it in your mouth.

(It’s probably a good idea to put the whole piece in your mouth at once even if it seems big – any attempt to bite it in two is likely to lead to dropped food and loss of dignity.)

Not all sushi is raw: there are lots of “aburi” or grilled options, such as this grilled trio (the one on the left is eel, in the middle is a scallop, not sure about the other one).

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These two types of fish are both called “yellowtail” or “amberjack” in English. In Japanese they are buri and hamachi.

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Finally, my father-in-law ordered this, which is exactly what it looks like; a plate of fried bones:

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In a country where no food is wasted, it makes perfect sense when you have removed and served the fillet, to deep-fry the bones and serve them too. It’s called hone-senbei—bone crackers. To my amazement, it was crispy and delicious and did not at all have the unpleasant texture of fish-bones.

Note on the word of the day:

The name of the restaurant, kuroshio (literally: black tide), is the name of a current, the Pacific equivalent of the Gulf Stream, that transports warm tropical water along the shores of Japan. It is of great importance for Japanese fisheries.

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