A visit to a self-service sushi restaurant in Japan


#1

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2018/04/09/a-visit-to-a-self-service-sush.html


#2

No need to go to Japan, Mark – they’ve got one here in L.A., on Sawtelle. Kura Sushi has a regular conveyer belt system combined with an upper-level track that works like the system in the video. Order what you want, and a few minutes later it comes shooting down the track and screeches to a halt at your table. Plus, there’s the added bonus/fun/annoyance of a system that counts your plates and “awards” you prizes as you eat. The sushi is… fine. Inexpensive. And it’s a fun little system overall - the kids adore it.


#3

Truck stop sushi gets an upgrade.


#4

Anything to avoid the horror of human interaction!


#5

Careful what you ask for in an automated, human-free sushi restaurant… I’ve seen the “Rm9sbG93ZXJz” X-Files episode from this season’s reboot, and that restaurant concept still has a few bugs to be worked out!

Seriously though, it was one of the best episodes from this season. Worth watching!


#6

Yum. :neutral_face:
No tip? :angry:


#7

And there is also the Division 3 employee cafeteria on the show Legion this season. Which is not only conveyor belt food, but on little boats.


#8

Kura Sushi, seconded. Now in lots of cities here. I’m amazed they got this to the USA with most of the concept intact. Typical bill, including tip (well, we are in the States) $20pp. https://kurausa.com


#9

Wait, what? “Smile cheeseburger sushi”??? No. Just no.


#10

I hate to say it, but I simply don’t understand sushi. Here in the US we have this concept of “bite-size,” which is to say, foods about an inch across. Sushi is also meant to be bite-size, around the size of a softball. How do you even get the things into your mouth? Are all Japanese secretly Satchmo?


#11

Can’t wait until they upgrade to a system of tubes.


#12

Where are you seeing softball sized sushi? A typical piece where I am is about 1" wide and 3" long, and even smaller (about 1" in diameter) for rolls. You don’t have to put the whole thing in your mouth, anyway – normally a piece of sushi is 2 or 3 bites.


#13

Well thank goodness for that. I guess maybe the softball was hyperbole. But still I can’t remember the last time I had three inches of anything in my m… food, I mean. Food.


#14

This is Japan. Service staff are paid a decent wage, and tipping does not exist. (In any restaurant, if you try to leave money they will chase you down the road to give it back.)


#15

These things always fascinate me, since I’ve long been inclined to seeing vending machines and food automation as a kind of performance art.

It’s particularly interesting how food automation has related to the evolution and technology of money. Consider how successful the Automat was but how it’s model was then ruined by the inflation in food prices post-war and a refusal of government to issue larger denomination coins. This ultimately caused a general decline in vending machine technology as well in the US as the range of products they could host became increasingly limited by the limited coin denominations. It took us until the late '70s to figure out how to reliably handle paper money by machine, compelling the adoption of counter service largely to handle that paper money.

Japan’s apparent lead in food automation can probably be attributed quite simply to their use of a broader range of coin denominations which allowed vending machine technology to persist and become increasingly integrated with food service, as in the case of their once ubiquitous food ticket system which used electromechanical vending machines as a method of push-button pre-paying for items.

Now that money has gone digital (and been allowed by the banks to penetrate into the demographic most important to fast food) a lot of pent-up potential automation is soon to emerge. We now have smartphones, tablets, and soon our cars to serve as a digital payment and service front-end for the fast food experience. Vending machines will soon be self-mobile and proactively aware of consumers’ needs and locations. Imagine food robots prowling public events, stalking the hungry…


#16

100 yen sushi used to be very common but it’s getting more expensive. Still, I can’t remember a single kaiten place where you couldn’t order what you want - the chefs will make it to order. A lot of the ones I’ve been to in last couple of years have had those touch screen thingies.

I like the old fashioned places better though, where you just call your order to the chef. To me it’s the more impressive experience.

Edit: Oh, one reason why some of the cheaper ramen places etc. have a ticket system for buying food is that they used to avoid service tax that way. Technically you don’t buy food from a restaurant; you’re buying a ticket from a vending machine and the shop serves you food in exchange.


#17

I can’t wait for the day that the same is done in the U.S.! I live in one of those states where tipped workers earn a low base minimum wage ($2.83 - with employers covering the difference if tips received are below $30 per month, to reach the general minimum wage of $7.25 per hour).


#18

Who makes the Sushi. I thought you needed a Sushi chef with a fresh fish to have real Sushi?


#19

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