How to Eat at a Bullet Train Sushi Restaurant

(apparently this is old hat to some people, but it was an on-the-spot learning experience for me! thanks to everyone on twitter who warned me about the button [see below]!)

on a whim (like, last-minute-had-to-run-to-the-gate) i did a same-day change on my return flight from Manila so i could have a day trip to Tokyo (oh, the beauty of time zones!). if you know me, you know i love to eat, and by the time i got to Shibuya, i was hongrayyy. and while it was the third or fourth time i’d been to that part of town, i wanted to see if there were any new-to-me cool places around to stuff my face.

i went to my usual source, Foursquare, and lo and behold, supposedly the #1 place for sushi in Tokyo? AND it looked gadgety? AND only a couple blocks away?

For a blog post

what were they talking about bullet train/shinkansen sushi? robot sushi? touchscreen?

so, the place is actually a chain called Genki Sushi Uobei (魚べい 渋谷道玄坂店, Foursquare), and the deal is, instead of a conveyor belt slowly parading who-knows-how-old sushi in circles, you order the sushi you want from a tablet and it gets delivered to you by a speedy tra{y,in}.

if only i had discovered this video beforehand: (i don’t think it has sound, nothing is wrong with your speakers.)

but here’s how it works:

getting seated

Sushi restaurant. For a blog post.

when you enter the restaurant, someone will greet you at the front and hand you a black board with a number on it — continue on in and find the correspondingly-numbered seat. in my case, i was 31 (see the black board below).

protip as i discovered, seats 1/11/21/31, etc., at the end of an aisle, have extra space, which is great for stacking your finished plates.

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you don’t need to do anything with the board itself except when you’re done, hand it to the cashier so they know what bill to pull up.

getting situated

of course, i discover all of this when i’m almost done when a seasoned pro sat down next to me, so i’m telling you first so you don’t look around as clueless as i did:

Sushi restaurant. For a blog post.

mounted above the seat is a tablet. there’s a button on the lower left of the start screen that lets you change languages, including to English. PHEW.

on the top shelf above the tablet are stacks of tea cups and small sauce dishes you can take and use. there’s a condiment set on the counter between stations that contains chopsticks, small forks, small spoons, napkins, a bottle of soy sauce, pickled ginger, and powdered green tea. to make the tea, put a small spoonful (the spoon is teeny, that’s all you need) of the powder in a cup and use the faucet mounted at your station — it dispenses hot water. stir, and voila! green tea.

to use the soy sauce bottle, i found that you have to tilt it so the sauce has reached the top of the bottle, then press the rubbery button on the cap to squirt some out. there’s no wasabi, as far as i could tell (but there were packets of things). when you place an order, though, it will ask you if you want wasabi already put on the sushi or not.


use the tablet to navigate through the various sections of the menu and add items to your order. you can order three items at a time (since that’s what fits on each tray that zooms out towards you), but you can apparently place as many orders in a row as you want. they come out so quickly, though (see caveat below), that there’s no point in ordering a lot up front. there’s quite a good selection; you can view a PDF menu.

after a few minutes, out zooms your order!


now, here’s the key part:

if you’ll notice on the picture with my #31 board above, there’s a yellow button. each track has its own button with a speaker (that round black thing next to it). when your order arrives, the button will start to flash and the speaker will beep at you. take your plates off the “train” and press the flashing yellow button to send the train back to the kitchen. there are instructions for this written in English, but the people that sat down next to me (before the pro came in) were from China and didn’t really know what to do. so they kept on ordering stuff and eating without sending the train back right away, causing delays! ugh, rude!

Sushi restaurant. For a blog post.

you can see the empty train with the lit button but they didn’t push it — eventually they figured out what was going on. eventually. after holding up my order! but oh well. live and learn! i probably would have been just as clueless if it weren’t for my twitter friends who warned me about the button!

oh yeah, the button you have to push corresponds to whichever track the train arrived on — it’ll be the one that’s flashing. be kind, rewind.

in addition to individual items, they also had a 10-piece “Winter Platinum Set”. i don’t know what the ones with the leaves in it are, but i really liked the leaf (basil?)!

Sushi restaurant. For a blog post.

i was curious about these two meat ones which i’d never seen before.

Sushi restaurant. For a blog post.

as it turns out, the pork was quite good; the hamburger one not so much.

Sushi restaurant. For a blog post.

thanks to @wintersweet for pointing out that it’s hamburg (ハンバーグ) on rice, and for reminding me what hamburg is. yeah, if i’d known it was hamburg (not a fan) and not hamburger, i probably wouldn’t have gotten it.

they also have desserts and coffee available as well (the coffee is delivered by an actual person, lest it spill or fly off, i guess?).

Sushi restaurant. For a blog post.

check please!

prices are quite reasonable. the 10-piece platinum set was ¥1074, or a little over $9 at current exchange rates. individual sushi pieces are $1-$2. i ate a lot, including an apple pie and a coffee, and it totaled $19.31. not bad!

when you’re all done, there’s a button that says “ACCOUNT” on the tablet. press it and confirm on the next screen that you want to close your tab. take the black board with the number on it to the front and pay. they take credit card.

ugh now i’m craving sushi again…

update thanks again @wintersweet for this video, which showcases conveyor belt sushi and has a segment on this restaurant towards the end!

5 Comments on "How to Eat at a Bullet Train Sushi Restaurant"

  1. Thanks for posting this. Live time on twitter I was trying to figure out what the h#!@ was going on. Now I can’t wait to experience it myself.

  2. Great write-up. I went to the same spot last year and also had an interesting learning experience. For a bit, I was that guy who didn’t press the button to send the tray back, but they got their revenge later on. I had 3 plates come out at once, so I grabbed one with each hand. As I did that, the tray shot back into the kitchen, along with my 3rd plate of food. I may have shrieked. Fortunately, a nice Japanese guy near me saw what happened & helped me get the tray sent back out.

  3. That green leaf is probably shiso. LOVE the write-up! Thanks!

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