all aboard for a taste of japan
“Though Japan is famous for its Bullet trains, it’s a train of a different type that is my favourite. A visit to one of the many sushi train restaurants is a must. After a long day of walking around town we came across one with a queue of people outside, so we waited patiently, shuffling up as diners were seated and eventually it was our turn.
Inside the restaurant a single counter surrounded the oval track of the train, while within the train line we watched the sushi chefs at work, expertly moulding rice into bite-sized morsels and delicately placing each of the toppings. The variety was staggering! Not only did they have salmon and tuna but also bonito, sweet shrimp, eggplant, fish eggs, sea urchin, unagi (eel), scallops and mackeral.
In 1958 the first sushi train restaurant was opened by a man in Osaka who had trouble staffing his small sushi restaurant and was unable to manage it on his own. The idea came to him after watching beer bottles on a conveyor belt at the Asahi brewery. After 5 years of development to ensure the highly tuned belt system would run at the right speed (you don’t want fish flying off if it goes too fast), his first restaurant opened. The concept took off and sushi train restaurants have remained popular ever since – there are said to be around 3,000 of them in Japan today.
Needless to say we enjoyed our first sushi train experience immensely. We sampled all sorts of local delicacies and by the time we were full we had each piled up a large stack of empty plates, but when the total cost was calculated we were pleasantly surprised. No wonder the sushi trains are still so well-liked!”
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* photo by Alison Agnew – Intrepid Photography Competition