Perfect for when you’d like to be alone with the fish.
Japanese society is extremely polite and courteous. It’s not always a particularly outgoing one, though, since most people don’t strike up conversations with strangers in public without some sort of pressing reason.
So it’s sort of ironic that going out to eat in Japan often involves sitting elbow-to-elbow with people you don’t know. Counter seating is the norm at many casual restaurants like ramen and beef bowl joints, and especially so at revolving sushi restaurants, since you need to be sitting by the belt in order to grab food as it comes by.
However, there’s a very unique exception at revolving sushi chain Sushiro, which now has solo sushi-diner capsules.
The above photo was shared by Takahashi Yamada, Japanese Twitter user (@TakaYama_Web3) and creator of website End Start (https://blog.endstart.net). While not every branch of Sushiro branch offers this sort of seating, the one Takahashi photographed does, and it creates a private world of sushi just for you. Not only does it provide tranquil privacy, it’s also a reassuring configuration during the ongoing coronavirus situation.
“The one-person seats at this new Sushiro have a super social distancing vibe,” tweeted Takahashi, “but you can totally focus on your sushi.” Other Twitter users chimed in with:
“It’s like an Internet cafe booth.” “If the restaurant has Wi-Fi, then this is even better than a net cafe.” “You coud get so much studying done there.” “It looks like a cell.” “You’d have to be really decisive when choosing whether or not to take a plate.”
As alluded to in the last comment, while the enclosed space keeps you out of the sight of other customers it cuts down on your field vision too, and you can’t see as far ahead on the belt as you ordinarily would. That means you have less time from first seeing a plate of sushi until it slides past you out of reach, leaving you to hope that no one else grabs it before it comes back around again.
▼ Takahashi even put together a VR simulation of what it’s like to eat in the booth.
However, in recent years the increasing trend in the conveyor belt sushi industry is to have less up-for-grabs food on the belt, and instead let customers order the specific sushi they want, reducing waste and also letting diners eat more freshly made food. Take another look at Takahashi’s photo, and you’ll see that there’s a tablet right in front of the seat. After placing your order, your sushi comes on a second belt, located above the first, and stops right in front of you so you can pick it up.
Several commenters also noted a similarity between the Sushiro sushi capsule and the seating at ramen chain Ichiran, which also is designed to block your peripheral vision as you eat.
The setup also reminds us of restaurant chain Gusto’s one-person booths.
But Sushiro has gone beyond either of those in terms of giving you your own secluded dining area, and considering how small some studio apartments are in Japan, this looks like a pretty attractive option for a place to relax, especially when you consider that revolving sushi restaurants always have free green tea.