Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Conveyor belt sushi is more interesting than Adam Bede

I want to be clear about the nature of my trip to Japan. Besides a brief visit to headquarters, I have not been much more than a quarter mile from my hotel in any direction. This weekend I will extend my horizons a little. But so far, I've just seen a narrow patch of the Meguro neighborhood.

Tonight, though, I found something ridiculous and special, a conveyor belt sushi restaurant (kaiten sushi, I guess). It's like a dim sum place in some ways - the color of the plate gives the price of the dish, and the waitress just adds up your stack at the end of the meal.

A second conveyor belt, underneath the first, has shallow bowls for soy sauce and mugs for tea. I took a mug, added some hot water (each seat at the counter has its own hot water tap) and then poured in a generous portion of soy sauce. The kind fellow next to me choked on his fish, took a new mug from the conveyor belt, added green tea powder, and handed it to me. The funny thing is that I had already poured myself a dish of soy sauce for my sushi, so I knew perfectly well which bottle had the soy sauce in it before I tried to drink it. Japan confuses me.

This fellow had a pile of ten plates, plus soup, by the time he left. I looked at my stack of four, thinking about leaving. A woman sat down beside me as I decided to try one more dish, an expensive one, maybe $4. By the time I finished that fifth sushi dish, she was on her sixth plate. I was clearly doing something wrong.

As I ate, I watched the sushi pass by at eye level, one dish after another, pink and green and orange, some startlingly beautiful, others quite unappetizing. I had Adam Bede with me, but I didn't read a word. I just watched the sushi slide past.

You can poke around on Youtube if you want to see the conveyor belt sushi in action, but who has time for that? Live, people, live!

My Signet edition of Adam Bede is now, by the way, a four-continent book, if I count the Brussels airport as a continent. Which I do.


  1. All very well AR, but the quality man. How was the quality?

  2. I can answer this question with some precision. The conveyor belt sushi was as good as American sushi that costs twice as much. Not as good as American sushi that costs four times as much.

    Not in the running for a prize, but fine.