The Not-So Starving Student—Bullet Train Sushi

While some of the most exciting dining experiences I’ve had have been outside of North America, there are a few experiences I’ve had in Canada that are worth mentioning.  One of these is a bullet train sushi experience.  Even though these are fairly common in Japan and parts of Asia, it was a rare find in Calgary, Alberta.  Similar to the conveyor belt sushi experience, the bullet train sushi restaurant offers your sushi orders on a moving platform.  However, unlike the conveyor belt sushi experience, your desired sushi dish is typically not pre-made and rotating on the conveyor belt.  All items are made to order.  The original concept of the conveyor belt and bullet train sushi restaurants stemmed from a shortage of staffing in Japan in the 1950s.  Now it has grown to be an international dining sensation.  The toy-like bullet train certainly added a lot of entertainment to my own meals.

So how does it work?

You order on an electronic tablet menu.  I particularly like this method of ordering as it gives immediate instruction to the sushi chef without manually having your order taken down by a server.  If you’re looking for a full-service restaurant, this may not be the one.  Another pro of ordering via an iPad is being able to visualize your orders.  Because the bullet train platform is quite small, the largest item you order must still fit on the train.  Thus most orders from this location are quite small.

Depending on where you’re seated you may use other tables as a reference for what to order.  For example, having sat near the front of the tablet (closest to the sushi chef), I could see others’ orders pass by me on the bullet train.  This helped give me an idea of the portion sizes as well as inspiration for what to order.

Another unique feature of this dining experience was that there were no servers to come ask you about how your food is.  Being a moderate introvert, I always enjoyed my food in peace without the server coming around frequently.  From a business perspective, it also helped reduce the cost for hiring staff available at the restaurant.  However, if you experience a problem with your order, bear it in mind it could take much longer for the concern to be resolved.  For example, our touchscreen monitor froze a number of times and asking for help from a real server was quite difficult.

I truly enjoyed the bullet train experience and would definitely consider going again.  The price of the sushi was slightly pricier than an average sushi restaurant which was to be expected as the experience was quite incomparable to any other.  For myself, despite having ordered a number of different dishes, I still opted for carbs like udon to help keep me full.

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