29. Eat Sushi off a Conveyor Belt
Yes, I’m totally serious! LOL I know it sounds a little weird but if you go to Kula Sushi, and you like to try new and unusual things, you’ll probably dig it. The restaurant is located in central Austin but from the moment I walked in the door, I was thinking, “Hmmm, I bet this is what Tokyo must be like.” It has a very modern and automated vibe. The first thing you do is type the number of people in your party into a tablet that is mounted right in front of the hostess stand. You get a number and wait till it is called. A little impersonal, I suppose. But I, for one, am easily amused and I liked the novelty of it.
So, there are plenty of booths to get comfy in but I normally sit right at the sushi bar when I go to a sushi place. In this case, you’re sitting facing the conveyor belt that winds it’s way through the whole restaurant. The belt is clean, cool, and brightly lit. There is a little sign in front of each type of sushi that comes by that tells you what it is. The plates themselves are only $2.25 and you get two pieces of sushi or 4 pieces if it’s a roll. So, it’s all very organized and intuitive…and a damn good deal!
There is a bit of a learning curve at first, though, since Kula is just different from the typical restaurant experience. The servers are very friendly and helpful (of course-this IS Texas). They come over, take your drink order, and walk you through how everything works. If you see what you want on the belt, you just reach out and grab it. There are little domes over each plate and they pop open as you slide the plate out.
Side Note for all the ‘germophobes’ out there: Don’t fret! The belt has an automatic, timed disposal system that makes the plates go ‘Bye Bye’ when they have been on the belt too long. You can also see the busy, open kitchen area along the back wall of the restaurant. There, the chefs are preparing all the sushi, nice and fresh.
Anyway, back to the learning curve…So, when you sit down at the belt, there is an ipad screen in front you where you can easily order anything that you’re not seeing coming by…or maybe it’s listed but somebody already grabbed it. It’s all done with pictures so it’s very simple. They have a pretty full sushi menu and some darn decent desserts as well! I ordered a New York Cheesecake and one of my friends ordered Mochi Ice Cream and they were both ‘delish’. More importantly, all the sushi I had was very good…and I’ve eaten plenty of sushi all over the place! I had my usual stuff…tuna, salmon, eel, etc….no complaints.
If you order something on the screen, you’ll hear a little ‘Ding’ when it’s ready. Look up and there it is. It has miraculously appeared in front of you on an upper conveyor belt that comes straight to you from the kitchen. It’s so ‘Jetsons’-you just have to go there and see it for yourself. Very clever and fun!
The other thing I thought was very clever and fun is the ‘Prize’ factor! The servers let you know when you come in that if you get 10 plates of sushi (remember, they are small and only $2.25), you get a prize and if you get 15 plates, you get an even better prize. So, of course, your brain will immediately say ‘I want the Even Better prize!’ LOL
Spoiler Alert: The Even Better prize is literally about as substantial as something out of a Cracker Jack box. But, it doesn’t even matter. It’s just fun to win a prize, am I right?! My dinner companions and I combined all our plates (Yes, they let you do that), slid them into the little plate receptacle thingy in front of us, and won a teeny little phone accessory that looked like a bowl of miso soup. Cute Overload…and I didn’t even mention that the prize comes in a big red ball from what looks like a gumball machine behind the ipad screen. It’s like being at a carnival or something!
I wish I’d thought of the whole concept. I mean, who doesn’t want to go eat dinner and then maybe get a prize?? The folks at Kula Suhi are geniuses as far as I’m concerned. I was totally ‘jacked’ when I left that place. Okay, a bottle of hot sake didn’t hurt. But, I just thought the whole concept made a visit to go eat sushi all the more fun…and even kind of exciting. As we were walking out, I noticed that a Yuge crowd of people had formed in the waiting area. Hip Austin folks with lots of tattoos and hair in shades from purple to blue to green added to the colorful atmosphere of the evening.
So, throw caution to the wind and go for it! Just kidding-You’ll be fine, I promise! ;P
Helpful Hint: If you want first ‘dibs’ on the first sushi that is coming right out of the kitchen, sit to the left side of the restaurant (when you walk in facing the hostess stand). That’s where the conveyor belt starts. 😉