UPDATE 2012: THIS RESTAURANT IS NOW CLOSED
Federal Way has one, so does Lacey. Tacoma’s Sushi Revolution is my favorite. And now Puyallup’s South Hill has its first conveyor belt sushi restaurant. Sushi Land opened last week, just a few doors down from the Rock Wood Fired Pizza on South Hill.
The concept is pretty simple – a sushi chef prepares fresh sushi, placing it on a conveyor belt that rolls all around the dining room, passing by diners seated at counters or in booths. Diners reach over and pluck off the belt whatever looks pleasing. The sushi is covered with clear, plastic containers to protect from airborne germs. Some call it conveyor-belt sushi, others call it sushi-go-round or kaiten zushi.....
Puyallup's Sushi Land is a kitschy experience and the staff plays up the silliness. Every available staffer yells a greeting when you enter the restaurant, and you’ll hear a chorus of “Arigato!” (thank you) when you leave. And when I say they yell – I really mean it. Warning: The manufactured enthusiasm may irritate some who like a little less enthusiasm with their sushi.
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This is an outing geared for groups, or families with young kids - my young one finds it fun to watch the food go around, and he likes that he can eat with his eyes, rather than guess what might taste good based on unfamiliar sounding descriptions on a menu. And, the bonus for parents is that there’s no long wait for food (read: no time for meltdowns). Plenty of cooked items appeal to a young palate, while mom and dad can indulge in raw or cooked sushi.
At the end of your meal, your server stacks up your plates, then tallies what you ate (the prices are on the plates at Sushi Land). A family of three easily can dine for $20.
The restaurant is brand new and they’re still working out the kinks. On my visit, staff was doting, but at times, they looked stressed. I’d say give them a few more weeks of working out service kinks.
The sushi here is very economically priced at $1-$3 per plate (comparatively less than other sushi-go-round places I’ve visited). The sushi selection is pretty basic – you’ll see familiar sushi menu items like California rolls, spicy tuna rolls, spider rolls and salmon nigiri, as well as edamame, gyoza and fried calamari.
A word for sushi aficionados: You won’t find meticulously prepared rolls with complicated ingredients, the kind created by Kazuya “Kazu” Kamada of Gari of Sushi in Tacoma; or Jackie Young Koh of TwoKoi. That’s not to say the rolls at Sushi Land aren’t good – they are. They’re just not fussily crafted the way they can be at high-style sushi restaurants. Sushi Land is more of a fast-food version of sushi eating.
Here, a look at what I sampled:
California roll: A plate of 3 pieces for $1.50. Nice, tight, consistent rolls. Krab (yes, fake crab) salad with avocado, and matchstick size shards of crispy cucumber provided a contrasting creamy-crunchy texture.
Spicy tuna: A plate of 3 pieces for $2. Silky chunks of raw tuna, chopped and rolled tightly in a layer of seaweed surrounded by rice dotted with white sesame seeds. A bit of cucumber added crunch. Orange sauce on top yielded spicy punch.
Spider roll: We didn’t see one come through the conveyor belt, but Sushi Land staffers encourage ordering whatever you want that doesn’t appear on the belt, so we called out for a spider roll. Within a minute, a spider roll -a 4-piece roll on a $3 plate- appeared on the belt next to us. The sushi rice and seaweed were tightly rolled around fried soft-shell crab, avocado, daikon sprouts and carrots.
Shrimp tempura roll: A plate of 3 for $1.50. Shrimp was lightly tempura battered and fried, then wrapped up with mayo and a layer of green lettuce.
Asparagus tempura roll: A plate of 4 pieces for $1.50. Crunchy asparagus spears were lightly tempura battered and fried, then wrapped up with a layer of cream cheese inside a rice jacket.
Gyoza, calamari and mini chocolate eclairs: All priced from $1-$2, the gyoza was as expected – three pieces of fried potstickers with pork and veggies inside. Calamari was lightly breaded and fried (some pieces were overcooked, and chewy). The eclairs were little puffs of pastry with chocolate on top and a cream filling. We also saw edamame and a few other non-sushi items roll by on the belt.
Sushi Land Marinepolis PuyallupUPDATE 2012: THIS RESTAURANT IS NOW CLOSEDWhere: 4301 S. Meridian, Suite F2, PuyallupPhone: 253-604-0066Website: http://www.sushilandusa.com/Hours: 11 a.m.-9 p.m. daily
Other conveyor belt sushi restaurants in the South Sound:
Sushi RevolutionWhere: 5225 Tacoma Mall Blvd., TacomaPhone: 253-475-5559Website: http://www.sushi-revolution.com/Hours: 11 a.m.-9 p.m. daily
Blue Island SushiWhere: 35002 Pacific Hwy S., Suite A101, Federal WayPhone: 253-838-5500Hours: 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m. and 5 p.m.-9 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays and noon-9 p.m. Sundays
Sushi Go Round Where: 1360 Galaxy Drive NE Bldg. C, Suite APhone: 360-455-8411Website: http://sushigoround-lacey.com/Hours: 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m.-9 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays; 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Fridays-Sundays.