Thursday, December 29, 2005

Yo, sushi!

Yo! Sushi is a British chain of sushi restaurants with its sights set on expanding into the U.S..

There's one in New York City, but I'm not sure where else within our shores.

Yo! Sushi's main gimmick is a long, winding mechanical conveyor that carries the pre-prepared sushi along a winding counter, where seated customers grab what they like as it passes by.

Yo! Sushi is simply a British take on Japan's kaitenzushi (literally "revolving sushi"), which have exploded in popularity in the past 10 years as a much-cheaper alternative to traditional sushiya (sushi restaurants).

(Consequently, the sushiya are hurting big time. Many times, a sushi chef put out of business by the kaitenzushi ends up working at one. After all, the typical professional sushi chef inherited his restaurant from his father, and, having trained since early boyhood in nothing but making and serving sushi, usually has few other marketable skills.)

The kaitenzushi, by the way, are a modern twist on the traditional "sushi boat" restaurants, where diners snag sushi from tiny wooden boats that circle the sushi bar in a water-filled carousel.

In Japan, such restaurants are essentially a thing of the past, and even when they existed were probably the exclusive territory of the very well heeled, but in the U.S. they survive in touristy places like San Francisco's Japan Town (that's J-Town's Isobune Sushi shown above).

—Mellow Monk

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