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October 1, 2015

When Yo Sushi first opened on Rose Street in Edinburgh, way back in 2001, it seemed like the future had arrived. Not only did they use the kaitenzushi, or conveyor belt, serving system but the short-lived Rose Street branch also had pour-your-own beer taps at each table.

More controversially, at least by today’s standards, this was the era when you could still puff on a ciggy inside, so each table boasted a vacuum ashtray which sucked away ash and excess smoke.

Drinks robot

They also had a robot which was supposed to deliver other drinks but, if memory serves, it never properly worked. It wasn’t unusual to see your sake cocktail sail past and be delivered to another table. More usually, the robot was parked up in a corner like an automated but broke down dunce.

Anyway, some fifteen years later, sushi restaurants are common all over Scotland and conveyor belt sushi delivery seems completely normal.

If the Genki Sushi chain are right then kaitenzushi restaurants are about to look very old hat. The problem with conveyor belt sushi is that it doesn’t take long to be past its best.

We don’t mean that it goes off. Just that being whizzed around the circuit a few times tends to dry it out. The staff throw out the stale stuff which leads to rather more waste than is desirable in these eco-conscious times.

Bullet train

The Genki Sushi solution has been to take individual orders which are then delivered to the customer via miniature racing cars, or, for that truly Japanese touch, bullet trains. Naturally, your order is placed via a tablet. Less waste, fresher sushi, happy customers.

The idea has been a hit in the company’s Japanese homeland and is now being rolled out to its American branches. Apparently, Genki Sushi has plans to open in the UK.

According to an article in The Times (I would link but it’s behind a paywall) some restaurants have gone one step further and offer a service where customers can see real time video footage of the restaurant’s fish tank.

Choose your fish

They touch the fish they want and, minutes later, it arrives at their table, sliced, diced and served with rice and wasabi.

When Yo Sushi first opened, and then swiftly closed, on Rose Street there was much speculation as to whether or not Scotland was ready for raw fish. They were a little ahead of their time.

Although sushi has become an everyday food in the intervening years,  it may be a while yet before we are ready to select the actual live fish which we want to see on our plates.

We can’t promise bullet trains but there are plenty of 5pm restaurants offering deals on sushi.