Saturday, April 30, 2016

Kurazushi, Center Minami (くら寿司 )

With all the professional work I've been doing on McDonald's recently (it's complicated), it's interesting to visit the McDonald's of sushi. I don't say that lightly - Kurazushi has something like 250 stores, including 10 in the US (all California except Plano, which is good if we ever have to move to Dallas because the Japanese school is in Plano too). McDonald's has 3,000 stores in Japan, but let's not quibble.

This particular warehouse-of-sushi presents a funny warehouse-like exterior, as I imagine do all of their shops. It's especially funny because it's just sitting at the end of a floor in a mall.

Opinions are going to vary on this stuff, of course. It's mall sushi. But it's Japanese mall sushi, and that's worth considerably more than American mall sushi. Some people are going to hate everything about it - the modernity and sterility, the size, the video-game ordering/gambling system, the everything's-a-dollar pricing, the all-natural ingredients...

Whew, that's a lot to unpack. Hey, it's big, wide-open, scrupulously clean, and cheap as chips. Beggars can't be choosers. Neither can parents of young kids.
Speaking of which, here's Catfish checking out the hypnotic procession of mostly-empty covered plates on the conveyor. We were just seated badly, I think, down at the end of the row away from the kitchen. By the time plates got to us they were picked over. Which is not a bad thing, because then you can order from the touchscreen and your warez are made and delivered to you a little fresher.

Delivered to you by automatic conveyor belt, I must add. Not for the first time this month did I see this system, which goes ding-ding-ding before whizzing extravagantly and then delivering your order right above your table. Damn that's cool.
Cool sushi and hot steaks! Cheese and rice I hate American places that use that slogan. Like those two things go together, except in some kind of luxury-status-conflation universe.

Rant, rant, rant. Pickled mackerel sushi. There's nothing wrong with the sushi here, especially for $0.50 a piece. I continue to be all about value. Although a changing table and a spacious booth where Mrs. Peel can sleep while we eat are worth a lot more than they used to be.
You will interface primarily with the touchscreen for your service needs (to the extent that even the beer is self service). We didn't realize this until the end, but eating here is gamified - you put your spent plates down a slot in the table, right next to the ginger bucket and hot water tap, and every 5 empty plates you get to spin the wheel and maybe win a prize! We won something here - Atari!!!! - but were unable to figure out what we had won. You know how people can be vague about things in Japan? The language is really structured around being vague. In this case our winnings were vague, and someone didn't press to see what type of lucre was our right of conquest, so the vaguary of the counter staff was victorious.

I was happy enough just to conquer some funny stuff. No picture of the corn tempura blobs, but here's a great shot of the... geez, I think it's tempura squid with spicy mayonnaise and brown sauce, all on a little rice and a couple sheets of seaweed so you could in theory pick it up. This thing is a monster, and a meal in itself.

And that's sort of the theme here - it's a family meal. You can get curry. Ramen. Tempura. It's closer to the American conception of a Japanese restaurant than anything else in Japan. And we were stuffed after an hour, for what, $25? I've spent more than that on cover charges (not without strenuous protest, I add).

Go ahead and protest. I'm just going to have another self-serve beer from the auto-pourer. 

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