For me, one of the darkest days of 2013 was when the revolving sushi restaurant near my apartment closed down. Sure, I could always hop on the train and ride to another neighborhood for my fix, but that’s small comfort for those times when I want a selection of delicious raw fish and vinegared rice parading past me right now.
On that day, building a revolving sushi experience of my own replaced “supermodel grotto” and “garage filled with classic Mazda sports cars” as my eccentric millionaire daydream. But it turns out I actually don’t need such a hefty bank balance to fulfill this ambition, thanks to this sweet home-use revolving sushi set.
Revolving sushi, or kaitenzushi as it’s known in Japanese, has become a culinary mainstay over the past few decades in Japan. Originally looked down upon as inferior, cut-rate imitations of authentic sushi establishments, kaitenzushi restaurants have since managed to achieve the seemingly conflicting accomplishments of increasingly tasty food at lower and lower prices.
Kaitenzushi is now a hit with sushi fans looking to dine out on a budget, families (since kids don’t have to wait for the food to be served), and even foreign residents and visitors to Japan, since the system of grabbing plates as they slide by eliminates any language problems in ordering. With such a broad fan base, toymaker Takara Tomy Arts saw fit to produce the Cho Niginigi Kaitenzushi (Super Energetic Revolving Sushi) set, which allows you to recreate the revolving sushi experience in your own house, apartment, or (assuming a lenient management style) office.
The cost and complexity of buying and maintaining the conveyer belt system employed by kaitenzushi restaurants necessitated a switch in the sushi delivery method. Instead of a motorized surface, Takara Tomy Arts’ set is composed of a plastic rail, onto which a D-battery powered train engine is placed. In order to whet your appetite for some delicious sliced seafood, though, the train is shaped like a fishing boat, complete with a flashy flag of the sort flown by Japanese tourist groups.
The boat/train is powerful enough to pull four loaded plates of sushi, and runs at a controlled speed that keeps the food from flying off. The set, which goes on sale March 20 for 6,500 yen (US$63) comes with eight sections of rail; four straight and four curved.
As you can see, the eight pieces lock together to form an oval. Interestingly, though, the Takara Tomy Arts’ specs for the set specifically mention that the amount of space taken up by the set “depends on the layout of the rail.”
The only possible layout for the eight pieces that results in a complete circuit is the one pictured above. Since it’s unlikely anyone would create a course that ends with the train careening off the rail at the end, the note from the manufacturer about alternate layouts seems to indicate that you could purchase additional sets, link all the rails together, and create a massive track running through your entire home, serviced by multiple sushi-carrying trains.
▼ This is only the beginning.
The diners are only one side of the kaitenzushi equation though, and before they can dig in, someone has to create those tasty morsels. Thankfully, the Cho Niginigi Kaitenzushi set comes with tools to help you form appropriately sized blocks or tubes of rice for making standard nigiri sushi or thin roll makizushi.
Honestly, with how far Takara Tomy Arts went in making it easy to set up your own kaitenzushi operation, we’re a little surprised they didn’t throw in a pole so you can catch your own fish.