We’ve talked before about kaitenzushi, Japan’s class of restaurants where customers grab whatever sushi they want off a conveyer belt that parades the plates before them. Quick, easy, and fun, kaitenzushi has seen its popularity soar in the last couple of years.
But as kaitenzushi joints proliferate across the country, one restaurant in Mie Prefecture has decided to take the system and give it a completely new menu, by creating a revolving yakiniku, or Korean barbecue, restaurant.
The restaurant is located in Matsuzaka City, which, after Kobe, is one of the most famous and respected beef-producing regions of Japan. Called Isshobin, part of the restaurant offers table service, as is the norm for yakiniku eateries. What really brings customers through the door, however, is its kaiten yakiniku section.
Just like with kaitenzushi, customers take a seat at the counter or one of the tables along the conveyer belt. Isshobin has a surprisingly extensive menu of 60 items, the price of each can be determined by looking at the color of plate it sits on.
▼ Prices range from 100 to 950 yen (US $1-$9.40)
There are a couple adjustments that need to be made when substituting beef for fish. For one thing, the quicker speed at which raw meat will go bad means that Isshobin’s offerings aren’t moving around in the open air like at kaitenzushi restaurants. Instead, they travel inside an enclosed, refrigerated tunnel.
When you see a tasty-looking cut, a press of a button will flip open the cover near your seat. A second press will lower it again, and just in case someone forgets, it’ll automatically shut itself after six seconds pass.
Diners customarily cook the yakiniku themselves at their tables, and Isshobin’s kaiten area seats are thus properly equipped with grills.
It’s a great idea, and should be especially appreciated by solo diners. In most restaurants, yakiniku is only available in much larger portions than the ones on Isshobin’s conveyer. The individual servings and counter seating are both unique features for Korean barbecue restaurants, thus Isshobin is ensuring that no one has to be unsatisfied in their desire for mealtime companionship and tasty beef at the same time.
Isshobin (Miyamachi branch) /一升びん 宮町店
Address: Mie-ken, Matsuzaka-shi, Miyamachi 144-5
Kaiten yakiniku available 5:30 p.m.-9:30 p.m. weekdays, 12 p.m.-3 p.m., 4:30 p.m.-9:30 p.m. weekends