While our reporter was out visiting the Nation at War Tavern and other sights in the southern city of Kagoshima, he perused a guide map of the area and saw a listing for “Japan’s best conveyor belt sushi restaurant.”
Conveyor belt sushi restaurants, also known as sushi trains or kaiten-zushi in Japanese, are eateries where the dishes float past your seat allowing you to effortlessly serve yourself. They are fun and cheap places to get some decent quality sushi, but are hardly considered haute cuisine in Japan. So what could Mawaru Sushi Mekkemon be doing that elevates it past the largely uniform conveyor belt sushi preparation and presentation to earn it the coveted title of “Japan’s Top Conveyor Belt Sushi”? Our reporter went to find out and brings us this report.
■ More than meets the eye?
Upon entering the shop, I was taken aback by what I saw: It looked exactly like an average conveyor belt sushi joint! Apparently, this place won a nationwide conveyor belt sushi contest held by a TV program, but at first glance I couldn’t see why. Was it the price? Large toppings?
■ First up: Aji
At the chef’s recommendation, I had two pieces of the Aji (jack mackerel) which were served with grated ginger and green onion on top. Strangely, in addition, the rest of the fish that the pieces were cut from was sitting on the plate as well. “What the heck am I supposed to do with this?” I thought as I finished my sushi, gazing at this odd decoration.
However, later on, the chef returned with that same fish body. Only this time it was all fried up for me to eat! It has a pleasant odor along with crispy texture and a firm flavor. This was the kind of service you get at a high class sushi shop – not a conveyor belt sushi restaurant.
■ Followed by: Saba and Takenoko
The chef advised me to follow up that dish with some pieces of Saba (mackerel). Man… it was delicious and with just the right amount of firmness. It was so delicious that after putting a piece in my mouth, I had to force myself to swallow it. I just wanted to keep the taste in my mouth for longer.
Then the chef served up some of their Takenoko pieces of sushi which were a couple pieces of deep-fried bitter bamboo shoots. They were served with a wedge of salty lemon which gently fills the mouth with subtle bitterness that perfectly complimented the savoriness of the bamboo. This was hands-down the best item!
■ All natural fish
All of the fish used were caught locally from the islands surrounding Kagoshima. Also, rather than shipping in farmed fish, this natural meat is bought fresh from the local markets. Naturally the sushi pieces are prepared by hand with the upmost care by their chefs.
■ Everyone should try eating at this restaurant at least once
Mawaru Sushi Mekkemon elevates the art and business of conveyor belt sushi into a whole new level of quality. If I had to sum it up, I would say it’s a conveyor belt sushi restaurant that doesn’t serve conveyor belt sushi. However, to truly do it justice, I would also have to say that with the level of service they offer, this sushi isn’t just made with the hands, it’s made with the heart. Truly, this is Japan’s top conveyor belt sushi.
Mawaru Sushi Mekkemon, Dolphin Port
5-4 Honkoshin, Kagoshima
11:00 am – 10:00 pm
*There are also four other locations in Kagoshima and one planned for Kirishima City
Original Article by Seikai No Shogo