Coming to Japan you may already have some idea of what kind of restaurants will be waiting for you. There are plenty of unique and interesting places to visit in Tokyo or other spots in Japan. One of the most talked about restaurants is conveyer belt sushi. They are all over Japan and they are a typical place for families to make sure everyone has a full stomach. The prices are low and the quality of food is great. There are some things to know about these places before going in.
Take a Number
When you enter the restaurant, you will be greeted by a staff member and asked for the amount of people in your party. Once you have told them you will take a number and sit if they have nothing available at the moment. Sometimes there is an electronic ticket system that will be in Japanese only. You ask a staff member to help if you can’t navigate the menu well enough. They have started to use a new way to greet customers though, and it is with the small robot Pepper. Pepper can greet you, take care of seating and some can even answer you, but only in Japanese. The tablets most of these robots have now come with an English option. This is not typical of all conveyer bel sushi restaurants, but some chains have incorporated them into the experience.
Like What You See?
These kinds of restaurants have something that no other place does, and that is have ready-made food moving around for customers to grab. The main draw of these places is to have the menu readily available for the customers to access. If you see a plate of sushi that looks good, then you simply take it off of the belt line. The restaurant will keep a steady flow of sushi plates moving on the belts for its customers. If you see a picture on a plate but no food, you can order it from the menu.
How Much is That?
The way that these places price their foods is actually really clever. You will have different kinds of sushi being plated while you watch the food move around the restaurant. Depending on what color plate the food is on you will pay a different price. Typically, you will pay between 100 to 180 yen per plate of sushi. You will usually get two pieces of sushi per plate. You can order other things like French fries, ramen, and tempura but they will all come at higher prices.
Who Ordered This?
Some restaurants have learned to separate their booths using colors placed above tablet you use to order. Once you send your order in, you can wait for your table colored plate to come out. This helps keep other people from grabbing your food. That being said, some other places don’t color code their plates but the conveyer belt will have automated slots that will open for your order. The next thing they do is have the electronic tablets announce that your order is arriving so you won’t miss your food.
Where Do I Order?
The more traditional conveyer belt restaurants will have a sushi chef set in the middle of the room with you being to order directly from them. These restaurants aren’t as well known in Japan now, but they can be found in cities. In the more modern ones there will be a tablet at each booth and counter seat. The system will usually have a few language options available for foreigners. The English menu contains the whole selection of foods available and is very convenient. It even changes the audio voice changes to English as well. You will only interact with the wait staff if you order something that doesn’t come from the kitchen, or is too big for the conveyer belt.
How Do I Pay?
If you look around you may not see a place to put your plates. This doesn’t mean you should put your dirty plates back onto the conveyer belt. Once you and your other guests finish make sure to keep the plates you have eaten from near you. The same for goes for bowls and other plates. You will call the wait staff over and tell them that you’re ready to pay out. They will then count your plates after stacking them up. Some may pull out a custom ruler for ease of counting. They will add up your total and give you a laminated barcode sheet to take to the register at the front. They scan it and you pay the amount that you had eaten. There are some other places that have receptacle attached to your booth. After the wait staff have given you your total you can throw you plates in. You press the prompt on your tablet and begin to slide the plates into the receptacle. There is usually a small game for every five plates, and if you get the right combination on screen you will win a small gatcha prize. It is a fun way to end your meal.
Manners Are Key
Most people will be experiencing these kinds of places for the first time. You should make sure to follow some basic manners.
- Don’t take other tables food.
- The conveyer belt is for food only, no cameras on the belt, no used plates,
- Don’t throw your plates away before getting them tallied.
- Do not take food from the conveyer belt with your chop sticks.
- Don’t block the food on the conveyer belt.
- If you have a camera keep it on your table only.
- Be respectful of other patrons in the restaurant.
It will be a fun experience to see the way the food is distributed in these kinds of restaurants. It is usually a delicious and entertaining option to a typical night out. Try and remember that even though this may be fun and new for you, other people go there often and won’t appreciate loud foreigners. Enjoy your evening and fill up on some great Japanese food.