Ever since I arrived in Japan, I have been wanting to get conveyor belt sushi. It is probably one of the tourist trappings of Tokyo much like eating a big turkey leg at the county fair or deep-dish pizza in Chicago. If you ask native Japanese about “kaiten zushi”, only a slight tilt of the head will reveal their disdain for your bourgeois pursuit. Nevertheless, do as I do, get wide-eyed, play dumb gaijin and keep smiling waiting for a suggestion. The problem is they will often play dumb right back at you because they are loath to admit they would know of such a place. I ended up finding a place through Sunnypages.jp calles Pintokona. Despite only having one 4 1/2 star review, I saw the restaurant was located in Roppongi Hills so I hoped it would be decent. Plus it mentioned that sushi is not left on the belt for longer than 30 minutes.
I invited my culinary partner in crime Nghi, so in all it was Cliff, Michael, Chase, Nghi and Me. I was worried we would have to sit five people in a row, but turns out, we were shown a table in the back where we could all sit next to a window section that the conveyor belt ran through and gave us visual and auditory access to one of the chefs.
The faucet you see is the hot water for the self-serve green tea at every table (of course there was a laminated instruction page for how to spoon green tea powder into a cup-add water-mix for all the “tea-challenged”). The big jug with the wooden lid is the self-serve ginger. Some plates came by with a sign on them with names of special sushi or sushi they only made to order and I assumed you pulled the sign plate off the belt to order it, but I was mistaken. I was told to put the sign back and just tell the chef through the window what we wanted. It was really cool. There was a hard menu with other options, but I think we were all so excited to see food coming to us we forgot to check it out. By the time I realized there were other options on the menu, I already had a stack of empty plates that would have made a sumo wrestler blush. Next time my friends… next time…
We let the chef know when we were through stuffing ourselves and he sent someone over to tally the bill.
Just as I was wondering how they were going to add all the different plates up, our table person whipped out his wand and scanned our stacks!
There is a microchip inside that reads the plate colors and automatically gives you a total! How awesome is that? So efficient! All in all, we had a great time and it good sushi to boot. Michael and Nghi are actually both adventurous eaters so its fun trying new places. On one of the plates there was a sign that only said “Winter Delicacy” so Michael and I both agreed to try it:
I know a picture is worth a thousand words, but I wish I had a picture of Michael’s wholesome Mid-Western face when these two nigiri passed through our window. I’m so glad his male ego did not disappoint me because he cowboy’d up and ate his piece. Taste-wise, I wasn’t expecting much because in my mind, guts are guts, so I was expecting a certain, let’s say, “earthy” quality. However, these fish must have had some kind of bowel prep because these were the cleanest intestines I’ve ever tasted. The texture was creamy and unexpected. I am glad I didn’t have to down 2 of these because it’s kind of a hard mental hurdle to jump twice. I would recommend sharing with a friend over sake.
Until next time…