Kaiten roundup: A dizzying array of delights in Seattle and beyond
Seattle Times food writer Nancy Leson gives a roundup of kaiten (conveyor-belt) Japanese restaurants in Seattle and beyond.
Seattle Times food writer
Kaiten provides a visual primer to the wide world of sushi and other Japanese-food favorites, making these conveyor-belt restaurants the perfect vehicle for the sushi novice — and for folks who dine out with children. Sushi fanatics like me, in need of a quick inexpensive fix, appreciate kaiten, too.
Locally, Sushi Land and Blue C Sushi (with a dozen outlets between them) are the big names in the game. But allow me to introduce you to a handful of other places where you might help yourself to a movable feast of color- coded plates (prices vary, $1-$5.50 is the norm).
Don't see what you're looking for, or recognize what you're looking at? Why be shy? Ask! Want to chat about the experience? Join me on the blog: www.seattletimes.com/allyoucaneat.
205 105th Ave N.E., Bellevue, 425-453-0100; www.sushimarubellevue.com
Hours: 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m., 5-9:30 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays, 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays, noon-9 p.m. Sundays
Newcomer Maru is a sprawling seafood sensation located off (but not far from) downtown Bellevue's beaten path. It was packed during my noon-hour visit and now I know why: never before have I seen so many colorful options making the rounds. Classic maki rolls and their hot-mayo-swizzled counterparts move right along, as do seaweed salad and marinated maguro heaped on small plates, and beef yakitori tender enough to warrant another helping. Instead, I plucked a pair of grilled prawns, preening in their shells, and called for a special — a whole sautéed lobster tail ($8). A full bar and decent sake selection up the ante.
311 N.E. Thornton Place, Seattle, 206-525-9999; www.tengusushi.com
Hours: 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m. Mondays-Fridays, 5-9 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays, 5-9:30 p.m. Fridays, noon-2:30 p.m. and 4:30-9:30 p.m. Saturdays, noon-2:30 p.m. and 4:30-9 p.m. Sundays
Skilled sushi-chef Kozo Sato was a fixture at the late Takara on the Market Hillclimb for more than a decade. Today he's co-owner here in Northgate's Thornton Place, providing an experience akin to sitting at your favorite sushi bar — so long as you're fronting his petite kaiten kitchen. Otherwise you're staring at a low glass partition fronting a conveyor belt that wends around the room. If the belt appears barren (not uncommon as midday and evening closures near), fear not! What you don't see you'll soon get (futomaki, sweet uni) fresh from the hand of the sushimen. Great prices on non-sushi items hot (tempura udon, crisp fried squid) and cold (soft tofu).
500 Mercer St., Suite 2B, Seattle, 206-453-3881; www.genkisushiusa.com
Hours: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Sundays-Thursdays, 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays
In February, Japan-based Genki spawned a local chain reaction with a second outlet in Renton Village. A third's on the way, slated for the Broadway Building under development on Capitol Hill. But you'll find me lifting Osaka-style pressed saba ("stick sushi" made with cured mackerel) and other fishified fare off the belt at the Lower Queen Anne store. Others come to this mod sushi-go-round tucked into the retail center housing QFC for its $1 specials, natto handrolls, groovy little bar and happy-hour pricing.
izaKaya Kaiten Sushi
829 N. 10th St., Suite G, Renton, 425-228-2800
Hours: 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Mondays-Fridays, 5-9 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays, 5-10 p.m. Fridays, noon-10 p.m. Saturdays, noon-8 p.m. Sundays
Here at The Landing in Renton, shoppers and moviegoers hungry for homespun fare (nabeyaki udon), full-on dinners (tonkatsu, kobe-style steak) and lunchtime bento sit elbow-to-elbow with kaiten crusaders reaching for tempura-fried tuna rolls, shiro maguro and crème brûlée.
Kin to Northgate's all-you-can-eatery Bluefin Sushi & Seafood Buffet, izaKaya takes a more upscale approach with a bar and lounge. It also takes its namesake noshes seriously. Case in point: excellent yakitori ($2!) including skewered and grilled chicken hearts and gizzards, pork belly or bacon-wrapped scallops.
9730 N.E. 119th Way (Avalon Juanita Village), Kirkland, 425-821-7989; www.aasushi.com
Hours: 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. and 4:30-9 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays, 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. and 4:30-10 p.m. Fridays, 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturdays, noon-9 p.m. Sundays
This Kirkland kaiten shop is part of an apartment "village" where cafés and bistros abound. Neighbors hail one another — and the owner — from booths lining the perimeter of the slender room, or pound their keyboards at a handful of tables and take advantage of free Wi-Fi. The fish-topping sushi nigiri is sliced with restraint (though prices reflect that) while generously portioned hand rolls and hot items (teriyaki chicken $2.50, assorted tempura $3) help make this family friendly stop a true bargain bite.
Nancy Leson: 206-464-8838 or email@example.com
About Nancy Leson
Seattle Times food writer Nancy Leson serves up the best info and tips on Northwest food, cooking, dining and restaurants. Check her latest thoughts in her All You Can Eat blog. Her column appears each Wednesday. Her restaurant roundups appear monthly, on Fridays, in the Restaurants and Entertainment sections.
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