Friday, September 24, 2010

Round and Round

Kaiten zushi, or conveyor belt sushi, is a little gimmicky, yes, but also ridiculously fun. It appeals to the dim sum lover in me--all those carts going by full of dumplings, and you just look, smell, and choose. And, like those clangy tins in Chinatown, the color coded plates coming down the teeny luggage carousel are full of surprises.

Oh, don't look at me like that. Sushi does not have to be an austere exercise to be good. True, not every shop is going to be high quality, but this one, Midori in the Meguro Atre 2 building, is fantastic and a deal. Forty senior citizens standing in line when the place opens at eleven can't be wrong. Seriously, the elderly don't screw around here when it comes to food.

Fatty tuna, come on down!
 It can seem high pressure waiting there to pounce on what you want, but it also takes the pressure off you if you are a little nervous about flagging down the chef at a sushi counter. And who could blame you? They work for years to achieve that intimidating mask of focus. (I had a similar look that kept people from sitting next to me on the bus in grade school. Not kidding--even when it was packed and rainy.) And no worries about the tab, since the plates are color/pattern coded according to price. You just glance at the key in front of you to see how much the piece you're looking at costs.

Tender little squids dotted with yuzu
You can still order pieces and sides, like miso soup and fried chicken, from the chefs, but the standards always come around, like salmon, fatty tuna, squid, and yellowtail. The guy next to us, tall and lanky with glasses, ordered soup, fried chicken, fried oysters, and some potato croquettes, on top of racking up a leaning tower of empty plates. Respect.

Big, fat, sweet oysters
This was my mom's first time, and she loved it. Normally, she only goes for the traditional stuff, but when a piece of something new is going past, who can resist? We ended up trying some of what Donald Rumsfeld would call "known unknowns" and "unknown unknowns." I am almost positive that our unknowns were tastier.

Shake a little matcha powder into your cup, push a button for hot water, and hey! Green tea! Very Jetsons--you know, no fundamental changes in the way we live in the future, just more gee-whiz conveniences, like a robot in an frilly apron. Because seriously, even a thousand years from now, with flying cars and space colonies, you can't have a male robot cooking and cleaning.

Back to sushi. It just keeps coming!

Sea urchin in their spiny shells
Crab legs without all the effort and messy newspaper!
Fried smelt--salted and full of roe
Fresh scallops, conger eel
Sea snails! Cooked with soy sauce
Salmon, grilled a little to bring out the fat, and drizzled with citrusy sauce
This was the pile of plates we amassed. Not nearly as impressive as Lanky Guy next door. But let me remind you that my mother has the stomach capacity of a mosquito. Earlier that morning we had each taken a thumb-sized sample of brioche from a bakery. When we sat down at the sushi counter, she frowned at a plate of scallops going by and whispered, "I wish I hadn't eaten that bread." So we did our best, okay?

To tally up, a staff member scans the plates and gives you a little curl of a receipt that shoots out of the scanner. Jetsons!

There are booths along the counter, too, which is great if you have kids in tow. Kaiten zushi is actually very family friendly, and there are plenty of parents and kids on the weekends. Get there early, and make it a weekday if you don't want a long wait.

1 comment:

  1. I've come to gloat about my Italian binge post by painting graffiti on your blog and doing the neck-wiggle-arms-spread-whaddyagot dance from "Beat it." You know, the one Dick Cheney used to do.